Saturday, 28 September 2019

It's not much, but it's home..

In driving rain the ribbon developments running westwards along the clifftops from Newhaven to Brighton looked rundown and desolate. However, given the foul weather I suppose most places would look grim - our destination, East Brighton Caravan and Motorhome Club site

I moan so much about Caravan and Motorhome Club sites that I am beginning to wonder if in fact I derive some kind of perverse satisfaction in being irritated by them. They are not terrible, some important things they do get right, like the spacious pitches and wide access roads. I also think in recent years they must have put a bit of an effort into training the uniformed 'wardens' to be a little less officious; the ones today were almost welcoming.

Still, it is all a bit clubby, and my morning ablutions were accompanied by piped Radio Two. The presenter chattered mindlessly in a singsong tone like some probationary kindergarten teacher. Her infantile producer had come up with the bright idea of featuring live amateur choirs to make a change from the usual playlist of middle of the road pop music plucked from the latter decades of the last century. I hate Radio Two with a vengeance - canned smug mediocrity for the zombified masses! By the time I was out of the shower I was ready to run amok with a meat cleaver. Luckily, it's not something we carry in the van, so I had to make do with sharing my mental anguish with my nearest and dearest, who, after four decades still manages to be sympathetic. For an avowed atheist Gill at times displays almost saintly qualities.

Onwards through the rain towards London and the M25. Sarah and Rob Whatsapped blue-Med photos of the coasts of Corsica and Sardinia as they chugged eastwards on a ferry from Barcelona to Cittivecchio. We reciprocated with pictures of the 'Be Prepared for Brexit' stand in Clacket Lane services. I really do not know how I am going to cope with the absurdities of the fictitious crisis we have created for ourselves.

Well I do actually. Some bad news about our planned building project may provide a slender life line for my sanity. Paul, the builder, (Bob's brother I presume) is recuperating more slowly than anticipated from his broken ribs. Under the circumstances it seems more sensible to push back the start date until next March - better for him to be building in the Spring, better for us if we need to vacate the house for a few weeks and live in the van to be doing that in April, rather than this November or next January.

This means in January and February we could escape the worst of the Winter gloom and whatever surreal political shenanigans are happening at home by catching the ferry to Santander. So instead of fulminating about the latest attack on British democracy by bug-eyed English nationalists we are now chatting about which Spanish carnivale might be the best to see - a much more alluring prospect. I know we can't keep running away from home forever, but sadly the place doesn't really feel like home anymore; perversely we feel more at home as strangers elsewhere.

Anyway, not everything about home is terrible. Today is our eldest's birthday so we are off to spend a couple of days with Matthew. Abbey Wood camp site here we come; it's hardly the beautiful south, but it is South London and it does have parakeets. When you wake-up in the morning the Thamesmead environs may be somewhat 'Del boy', but the soundtrack is quite Andalusian, I just keep my eyes closed and pretend.

London, far from the most visually appealling of the world's great cities...

Looks better after dark?
Then up the M1. Gill Googled the mysterious giant graffiti adorning the bridges around Luton. Nobody knows the significance of the word 'Helch so far as we could tell. I speculated that it might be some Phd. socio-linguistics student from the University of Luton testing out how words acquires meaning through exchange, like a currency, rather than having any innate received meaning. Anyway, it kept us entertained for half an hour on an otherwise tedious journey.

Why are second tier English A roads the width of donkey tracks? This is certainly the case with the section of the A515 north of Ashbourne. Now that Buxton seems to have turned itself into a major centre for HGV operations the narrow Pennine A roads around it have become a tad hair-raising. Stage one of homecoming is signalled by an increasing number of Lomas tankers hurtling towards you on roads built for stagecoaches.

Queue of cars, procession of cows - welcome home!
Stage two involves bulbous dark cumulus hanging above Axe Edge and Morridge pinpointing Buxton perfectly . Arrival always coincides with a persistent drizzle. Today was no exception.

We unloaded the van soggily, opened the pile of mail (nothing untoward), gave thanks that the car battery had just about enough juice in it for the engine to splutter into life, took the the van up to its storage spot among the sheep, returned, switched-on the laptop and booked the ferry to Santander for the 4th January.

The only problem is how to stay sane between now and then.