Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Chapter Five

The final dental appointment over and a coffee and panini under the belt's, we headed for our new home in the West. It was with very mixed feelings that we drove away as the Farnham area has been our home for so long. We are leaving too many people behind who we love and its made the move all the harder. It didn't help being in two cars as we had nobody to talk too.
I don't know what Linda listened to on her radio but I settled in with a good book as I drove down here. "The Mayor of Casterbridge". I've always wanted to read that book as its a real classic that has passed me by. Sadly I have discovered that reading a book while you are at the controls of a car is bad for the old health. Its funny how many things can interfere with your life when your face is buried between book covers.
My dad always observed that I was born reading the midwives newspaper, and never stopped reading after that.
Not allowed a book at the breakfast table resulted in me reading the cereal packets instead; told to go out and play in the sunshine resulted in me hiding in friends houses while I read their books; told to go to bed and sleep resulted in me reading by torchlight under the covers; even waiting at 04-00 in the morning for a lift into work resulted in me reading a book under a streetlight. So it was well understood that I would find a way to read a book while driving...even if I cheated a bit.
Audio books, the perfect book in a car. The hours whipped past as I listened to the story...brilliant.
The cars bustled their way down the road to the west; the A303 eventually becoming the A30. Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset, and then into Devon...my old family home on my English grandfather's side.
It was as we passed through Exeter on the M5 and went back onto the A30 again that it dawned on me that this was not a holiday; that this was a move. We pulled up on the hard shoulder just short of the Devon/Cornwall border to decide about dinner. We were only an hour from our hotel (Travelodge) and so decided to keep going and eat there.
In torrential rain that quickly turned to fog we arrived. It was dark; it was miserable; it was bleak; "What have we done?" Welcome to Cornwall the sign said on the border...they must be joking.
And it just goes to show you how wrong you can be....
The smile on the face of the young girl at the Travelodge shone out like a beacon. Within moments she had given us the key and got us both organised for dinner in their pub. The welcome in there to was fantastic, along with the invite to join in with the pub quiz. On every side friendly faces smiled and chatted to us as we settled in. It was then Linda spoke, "We're home Mully." It was a good feeling.
The sun was cracking the flagstones the following morning as we drove off to our new home. Armed with a map, a satnav, and our inbuilt navigational skills brought on by our walking...we headed off into the outback. Within an hour we were pulled up on the side of the road and completely lost. That we were in the right area was a given fact; that we couldn't find the village was also a given fact; and that the removal people and landlady with the keys and waiting for us, was also a fact.
I then did what every British male the length and breadth of the country does. I said to Linda, "Its this way." and pointed along the road, "Just follow me." And with that I drove off and hoped I would see a sign to put me in the right direction. This is a ploy used by every husband...and it does seem to work. Today was no exception and driving hither and yon, I eventually spotted a sign saying Ruan Lanihorne. 1 mile.
We were there in no time at all and sure enough, the landlady and the removal men were already there and waiting. As we walked up towards them I whispered to Linda, "I told you I knew were I was. I said I'd get us here, no problem." Her reply was unprintable but I have the shrewd impression that she didn't believe me.
Within three hours the removal men were gone and we were now the proud tenants of a new home.
Our little village has barely 37 houses in it; with one beautiful church and one brilliant pub as well. The creek on the lower road is tidal and fills up to thumb level twice a day; and regularly, when conditions are right, it overflows. The estuary our creek runs into is so beautiful and a haven for birdlife, and surrounding us are green sloping fields and trees. The Roseland Peninsula is beautiful, and our little corner is exquisite.
Our home is painted white and stands just behind the old village pump. It stand's detached, in a comfortable, open garden and on a little twisting footpath that feeds into the houses around us.
One large living room downstairs with its beamed ceiling and open fireplace, leads into a delightful kitchen with its large windows and view of the garden. Upstairs we have three bedrooms and a bathroom with toilet. Our bedroom faces south and east giving us wonderful views and sunshine. There is a spare room with double bed for any visitors who can find their way here, and the last bedroom, with its view over the churchyard, is my library and my study. Never did Linda and I ever think we would live in such a place.
If our home could be likened to a favourite jacket to slip into; then the village itself takes on the role of a comfortable secure coat.
The people we have met have all been friendly and very kind. All are happy to stop for a chat and make us welcome. Our immediate neighbours are a delight and have taken the trouble to make us feel as if we have belonged here for years. The pub too, is a jewel in any crown. Good real ale, plus exceptionally good food make it an oasis for anyone...and their garden is the other side of our hedge.
The village is also incredibly quiet and peaceful which is such a change from Godalming. We have not spotted any youngster's here under the age of sixteen and this may give a clue to that. Those young people we do see all seem to be busy working, or studying, or whatever. It really is a lovely place and we do know how fortunate we are.
Putting the house into some kind of order took a while but it is now all done and looks great. There are just a handful of boxes unopened in the spare room, but Linda assures me they simply contain stuff to get rid of on E bay. The family photo's are out and the pictures are up on the wall. I even took leave of my senses and went out and bought myself a new electric drill. You should have seen the blood drain out of Linda's face when I walked in with that under my arm.
"Oh my God...NO!!!", were the words uttered. It bothers me not a jot as I've heard those words a thousand times before from a thousand other people. I can understand the fear and trepidation that unfolds, because people are well used to my inept use of any form of technology. I'm even more useless when the technology is making a loud noise; a car engine for example. Anyway...all holes drilled that needed drilling...all things up that needed putting up...all things have stayed in place were I put them. Success; although the fingers are still crossed on the saucepan rack.
Linda had us out in the garden very quickly because the weather had become so unseasonably good. Weeds were rooted out and destroyed; plants were heeled in and planted; the bird bath and bird table were installed; and I eventually managed to mow the lawn. I say eventually because boosted by my success with the drill I let things go to my head. Ten minutes into the grass cutting I put the mower over the lead; big flash and spark; no more merry sound of the mower; me looking bewildered; so without more ado,I swung into action and spliced the lead back together again.
I even remembered to unplug it from the mains as well.
Linda, gentle kindly soul that she is, lets me get on with these things. She has no confidence in my ability at all, but feels I should be allowed to sink or swim now at my age. She does worry though, and I do understand why.
Years ago; 38 to be precise, a neighbour asked me "Could you connect and join an extension on my  washing machine for me."
"I've seen it done," I said confidently, "No problem."
Grabbing her husbands tool kit; I wasn't allowed a tool kit of my own because nobody else I knew trusted me with one; I set to work. With the precision of a neurosurgeon and all the confidence of a 19 year old I spliced the correct wires together and applied the insulating tape. As she brought me out a cup of tea I plugged the whole thing in and said, "All done," before pushing the switch down in triumph.
The loud explosion and flash of light caused us both to leap back in shock. It also caused the machine to leap into the air and my cup of tea to leap out of her hand and onto the lino...were it broke. The smell of burning filled my nose; her shrieks filled my ears; and the bits of shattered wire filled my eyes.
Looking back now I know were I went wrong...I forgot to insulate each coloured wire individually. I had connected them individually but then wrapped the lot in insulating tape without separating them.
I paid the bill for the repair; promised to pay others to do any DIY jobs that the future may hold; and promised never to do anything more technical in my life than winding a clock or a watch in future. I went through quite a lot of clocks and watches before the day of the battery dawned.
As they say though, "you learn a lesson from your mistakes."
As Linda says, "Yes, but why do you need so many lessons?"
How cruel.
Ashen faced she watched me grab my tool box; I have four now plus the box with my new drill in it; so I grabbed the lot. With much puffing and my tongue sticking out between my lips I finally got it all to work. It lasted a full five minutes before it fell apart and I had to do it all again. Eventually though it was smiles all around as I got the lawn cut; the repair stayed as it should; and I stayed alive.
"Oh ye of little faith..." is all I have to say.    
                                        

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