Friday, 2 July 2010

CHAPTER ......... well, a new one anyway

Friday July 2nd 2010.  Well, this day has been a long time coming, but I am so very happy and excited to be able to share with you that today I got the keys to my new home ..... hopefully my new forever home.  I've been up the road to say 'hi' to Julie, the vendor, and to wish her well in her new home and reassure her that I'll give her space today to finish off as she needs to.  Strange how a house can be the closure of a mixed time for one person and the positive start of a new life for another.  It's only bricks and mortar but has a past, a present and a future ... and how different that can be.  So I have a month to get organized before I move in ... having had to pay rent on my current home until the end of July.

So where have I been since my last posting?  I certainly got out of the routine of writing, but I want to get back to it.  The house purchase has been stressful .... mostly because of having every decision fall on my shoulders.  Poor me!!  What do I mean?  Well, in a partnership 'little' decisions like buying a house involve lots of discussion, sounding off, bouncing ideas, etc .... from how inefficient the solicitor team might be to which insurance policy to choose and what level of cover.  Although it is wonderful to have the friends I do, in order to do this "bouncing", with no disrespect to anyone, it just isn't the same as doing so with someone with a vested interest.  I know my friends understand this.  BUT, I HAVE DONE IT!!  Now all I need are my last 3 boxes from Canada (please!!!!) and Moose and Midge, my Canadian kitties.

When I first returned from Canada, I promised myself that I would say "yes" to anything and everything for the first 12 months.  Steady on now, within reason!!  So I have kept that promise, enjoyed wonderful times with friends and family and healed greatly.  Of course this level of travel will not continue and I'll be back to camping next year - if my knees hold up!

Here's a "little" storyboard of some of my adventures over the last couple of months.....

Did I mention my trip to Madeira?  I went with Jenny (a nursing friend from my Scarborough days who I am now in touch with again).  A glorious island, not wonderful weather but it didn't stop our enjoyment and a well deserved break for all concerned.  Splendid complex with 'to die for' views - out to sea from across the pool and down 850 metres to the sea below, literally straight down.  Quite took my breath away! 

The flowers were so vivid and everywhere.  This bird of paradise was given to me by a handsome local man who, whilst watering his garden one day, also watered me in error!!

                                                                                 The terraces of fields were something to truly respect and filled the hills with crazy patterns.

I loved the white houses and terracotta roofs everywhere .... and plenty of sleepy looking cats on guard or just sunning themselves.   This church in the mountains really captured my eye - and the deceiving sun caught me out!  A little red later on.  Spent an enjoyable couple of hours just mooching around and enjoying the views.  These people work hard to make a living.                                                   
On the left is a levada tunnel which was rather fun to wander through.  These levada walks stretch across the island but the storms earlier in the year wiped out stretches of them and many were unwalkable.  On the right is how the locals farm these fields.  Yes, there is a man underneath!

 It was soon time to return to the UK, but not before another ash cloud scenario which kept us on our toes for a while. Our flight was the last out for a week and very delayed which gave us a headache at Gatwick at 4 o'clock in the morning.  I will really try NOT to fly in/out from Gatwick again during my time living 'up North'!

What else?  Many walks with friends.  And many cuddles with next door's 3 cats (though not at the same time), which has been a life-line for me.  I missed Midge and Moose enormously last Autumn, but now I have fun with my 3 ginger friends.  The biggest is Tigger and then there is a younger brother and sister - known to me as 'little boy' and 'little girley'.  Very un-original I know!  They wander in and out at will, especially as I love to have my back door open, and do the normal cat-like things of chasing flies, demanding cuddles and generally getting onto things I'd rather they didn't!  But they won't be encouraged at the new house as Midge and Moose may have something to say about it.
                                                            I spy with my feline eye ....

Here's a view from the farmhouse in the Peak District that Jenny and her husband rented for a week in June so that she could celebrate her special birthday surrounded by friends and family.  What a weekend that was!!  Needless to say, a selection of lentil dhal, chickpea something and 3 bean something else, should be approached with much decorum in the future!!  And as for the snoring, well I still struggle to believe I woke up most of the house!!  I DON'T snore!

Oh - major news .... my new (to me) little silver VW Polo.  Do you like her?  I'm so pleased with her although some numpty drove into her in Morrisons car park within 2 weeks of me getting it.  No real damage other than a slight dent and a flash of a rather 'nice' blue on the passenger side.  And did they stop to chat about it?  Of course not.  However, in the grander scheme of things, it is just a bump and not something which I will allow myself to get upset about.  I need to tie a bright scarf to the aerial so that I can find it though!!  Lots of silver cars over here.You might notice the number plate XLW.  I always try and make up a word or phrase to help me remember it but I was struggling with this one. Quick as a flash, one of my nephews came out with Extra Large Woman with the cheekiest smile on a 16 year old I think I have seen in a while!!  We all laughed, but I still need to get him back.  And yes, it works - I do remember it!

Anything else?  But of course ..... days out watching birds at RSPB reserves, meals with friends, Soccer Aid at Old Trafford and .......My camping trip to Wales.

I went with a friend and had a great time.  The weather was just glorious with the only rain coming on the morning we were packing up to return to York.  Although I was desperate to get to Pembrokeshire, we spent a few days touring and as a result I did, and saw, some things which were an added surprise.  Llandudno, Anglesey, Edge of Snowdonia, Red kites, Devil`s Bridge to Aberystwyth Steam Railway and an hilarious chat with Carys aged 2 and her grandma, Listening to owls at night whilst lying in my tent, Gale force winds (okay slight exaggeration) at St Davids, Coming eye to eye with the cutest as yet un-named bat, Beautiful Caerfai beach (above), Bro-Meigan tea room and gardens, THE coffin tent, Solva, a beautiful morning in Tenby (left) and so much more.

This bat was flying around in a hotel we spent an evening at and the landlord didn't seem too keen to deal with it himself.  One fishing net and a short time later Batty Bat was outside in the night air again.  I wish I had taken more notice of its features as I haven't been able to determine the species. 
Here I am playing around in my tent!!  Stupid photo!  I surprised myself by remembering how to put up my blue tent, but several days of putting it up in the evening and taking it down in the morning, together with rolling up my sleeping mat and packing up the car each time, played havoc with my knees.  Hence I resorted to the tiny coffin tent! 

What an unexpected delight the steam engine ride  from Devil's Bridge to Aberystwyth in mid Wales was. Devil's Bridge itself was fascinating with its 3 bridges stacked on top of one another and then the 'green green grass of home' along the track was beautiful.  I fancy staying at the little cottage you can see in the field on the left! Added to this was the sweetest 2 year old, Carys, who was out with her grandma for the day and spent the journey chatting and interracting with me.  So sweet.  She told me all about the 6 blue rhinoserous she had seen at Folly Farm!!  Oh the inocence of children.

And then, at last, it was Pembroke .... South Pembrokeshire and more especially the tiny little village of Bosherston.  This is where my soul lives .... and our reunion is always wonderful.  I tried a new campsite with limited facilities, (very limited), overlooking the coastline around Broad Haven beach.  I thought it would be superb there .... and in fairness it was, but the camp site setting at St Davids was better.  So spoilt we are, for choice.  Also, access to the Range was shut for the whole time, as yet more soldiers prepare for deployment to Afghanistan and the constant bangs and low flying helicopters did rather take away from the perfectness in my head! 

Never mind, we did do the traditional Bosherston Lily Pools Walk. We headed to the 8-Arch Bridge, stopping to watch a huge pike and keeping our eyes peeled for otters. From the bridge, across the Burrows (with its rare orchids very visible amongst the long grass), to the cliffs and then towards Broad Haven with Church Rock standiong to attention, seemingly guarding the Bay. Finally back around the other side of the pools and to a very welcome cuppa and cake at Auntie Vi's.  Still the same menu at Ye Olde Worlde Cafe and Vi still recognizes me.  I got to hold her MBE, which she was awarded last year, and of which she is incredibly proud. We reminisced about Bella and Caesar and nights spent in the green pavilion.   

Surely no more?  But yes, of course!!  Visitors from Edmonton!! (Hi Malc and Nancy), bbq's, long telephone conversations, far too much laughter ..... and alcohol, music playing, wonderful British tv and, I'm sure, lots more. A very good reason for taking photographs is that it saves having to remember!!  Still to come is the trip planned to Italy with a wonderful sister-in-law and 2 remarkable nephews.  Watch out Mt Vesuvius, here we come.  If ever there was a time to errupt - this would be it.

And last but not least, soaking up and enjoying the colours of the changing flora round and about.

 When I am out and about in the countryside, I can't help but scan the hedgerows and fields for signs of nature - flowers and birds being my main delight, probably because I know more about them than trees or insects!  At this time of the year the colours are so intense .... and everywhere.

Cowslips in a field at Blacktoft Sands. Welsh Poppies (well that's what I call them)!  Foxgloves equally at home in the Peak  District as on the Pembrokeshire coastal paths.  A Bluebell wood in Pocklington ... a carpet of blue far into the distance.

And now it's 6:15pm on completion day and the vendor is still not out of her house!  I went up at 5 o'clock and she said she needed another half an hour.  I've been very patient up until now but now my patience is wearing a little thin and I want to get into my house.  All a bit of an anti-climax now!!  Meeting Jenny and Bill for an Indian meal in a country village later this evening - for a celebration.  I wonder whether I will have seen inside my house before I have to leave? 

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