Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Chapter Twenty

The last day of the most amazing year of our life dawned today. It is hard to think of just how much has happened in one short year. Neither of us had any idea of what was to lie ahead.
For myself I was well wrapped up in my comfort blanket of my work, my home, my writing groups, my family, and my Linda.
Working with your best friends is what made this aspect of my life such a bonus; whether they are the close group of people you work with around your delivery frame; or whether they are the people you actually delivered to.
Living together in a house that you had both made a home out of is also another bonus. Our garden was a delight and the area very pleasant. For the first time in many years I felt I could actually have finally settled somewhere in this area.
Writing and sharing your work with like minded people was also a huge bonus in my life. To have them listen to my work and to be able to listen to their's, was the highlight of my week. I felt so stretched and so inspired as each week progressed and homework was submitted.
Loving your family is the greatest bonus of all. The nearness of each member brought me more comfort than I could have ever dreamed of. And the knowledge in my head of two beautiful daughters living their lives filled me with more happiness and pleasure than I could ever say.
Finally; to round off my comfort zone; there is the closeness and understanding of being with Linda. Always encouraging, always supportive, and always there to share life, she is the other half of my soul.
But what about the itch I could never scratch.
The only niggle in the comfort zone; the only dark cloud on the horizon; the only thought that made me turn my head and gaze unseeing before me...what about my dream?
Since childhood I have always wanted to be beside the sea. Nothing else seemed to matter except to be living on the coast. The sea has always been my 'safe place', my 'playground', my 'life'.
I remember as a small boy living in Wishanger back in the late fifties; I remember a little incident with my dad. I must have been about four or five at the time. Susan was up in bed having the obligatory afternoon nap and I was putting together a wooden jigsaw puzzle on our dining room table. The picture on the puzzle showed different animals dressed as human beings at the sea side.
Crammed full of detail, in one corner, it showed a couple of families of animals living in cottages beside the sea. I knew something was wrong and mentioned it to my dad as I showed him the finished puzzle.
"Look Dad; that's not right is it," said I pointing at the offending bit of the puzzle, "Nobody lives at the seaside. They just visit it for the day and then come home; like we did."
My poor old dad. Half asleep on his feet after getting up at half three in the morning before completing his milk round and getting home nearly twelve hours later. His answer was blunt and to the point.
"Dont be daft; of course people live at the seaside. Lots of people live and work there."
Then he said the magic words.
"Anybody can live at the seaside."
And from that moment the dream was born.
Every book I read as a child told of the good things to find there.
David Copperfield ran away from brutality, to live with his auntie beside the sea; he knew he would be safe there.
Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, the boys on Coral Island; Masterman Ready; Treasure Island; 20,000 Leagues under the Sea; Hornblower; even Rupert the Bear and Enid Blyton books. All these pointed towards a better life living on the coast.
As I grew older and holiday'd at the sea side I realised just how much I needed to be at the coast. The sound of the waves called to me with a siren song; the cry of a seagull equally so. It became an obsession; to me it meant living and holidaying all year round...and at the same time. I could dream of little else...and it became even more of a priority when I could have let my children share in my dream too.
That they wanted to share the dream and live at the seaside became a passion for the three of us...but there are always circumstances.
Sadly, that part of my dream was never meant to be...but the dream still remained.
And now I am here and most of the dream is fulfilled.
I now live at the coast; I now work at the coast; I am now part of life at the coast...and the bonus now is that I share this with Linda.
Anyway; never mind the comfort blanket. Linda and I are curled up in bed on New Years Eve morning and the boiler has stopped again and the house is freezing. One of us will have to get up and fire it up before making the first cup of tea of the day. It may not be a comfort blanket but I have the crochet'd blanket and duvet clung under my chin and I'm not getting up. Linda can make the tea this morning.
You find me in the kitchen now making the tea. I'm still not quite sure how I lost that one; but lost it I did. Linda got to stay in bed; I got to get up. The boiler is doing something anyway and some warmth is spreading around the happy home. My feet are like two blocks of ice so I know were they are going when I get back into bed; straight on somebody's backside.
Half an hour later we were both curled up in bed reading our books. Linda hasn't spoken since the expletive laden diatribe that followed my feet sliding against her bare backside. I can only thank God I had put the mugs down first; I am sure the bruising will fade on my arm in time.
All forgiving by now, Linda was all smiles as she asked if I would like to cycle with her to Tregony after breakfast to get the papers.
"You can christen your new bike and its only a five mile round trip."
I couldn't get ready quick enough.
"I used to do the London to Brighton cycle ride in a shade over three hours about thirty years ago," I bellowed at her from the bathroom, "This'll be good."
There really is something to be said for the old adage about..."Don't engage your mouth before you've got your brain in gear."
We left the vicinity of our house, knowing the neighbours would be watching, and headed down the small slope of the road towards the creek. We then cycled alongside before turning up the hill and heading towards our goal.
Within minutes I was gasping and wheezing like a broken down steam engine. They must have heard me in Penzance. Just before my heart gave out completely we stopped beside the phone box. Linda dismounted gracefully and stood beside her bike. I fell off mine and clung to the phone box as my new bike toppled into the hedge.
As fresh as a daisy, Linda stared anxiously at me as the sweat poured off my face and I fought to breathe. We could still see our house.
I know it seems silly now...but I've never had a bike with more than three gears on it before. This bloody thing has eighteen. Linda only discovered I had no knowledge of the bike gears when she asked me..."What gear are you in?"
It turns out that..."Trainers, jeans, a t-shirt, and a jumper!" was not the answer she was looking for.
With a patience and forbearance normally associated with dealing with a complete moron Linda explained the gear system to me. It took several attempts but finally some of it sunk through.
Things were a little easier after that and we got to Tregony (two and a half miles away) within half an hour. There are a lot of hills.
The last one into Tregony is something similar to cycling up a brick wall and Linda cycled it the whole way. I chose to walk up it. Strangely though; with her cycling like mad and me walking normally...we both got up the hill together.
Coming down the hill was a whole new experience in abject terror. Even with the brakes full on I swear I overtook a Porsche and a Ferrarri on the way down. I cant be sure as I don't recall opening my eyes on the entire hill.
Eventually we got home( total time for a five mile journey...one hour and twelve minutes), and after putting the bikes away we sat down for a cup of tea. Linda still looked fresh as if she had just got out of bed after a good nights sleep. I looked as if death had been a merciful release for me. It took a week before the rawness left my throat.
We rested for about eight hours before getting ready for the New Years Eve dinner at The Kings Head.
The evening was everything we hoped it would be. Neither Linda nor I are great party people and it is years and years since we have gone out to celebrate the New Year. Our dinner consisted of seven courses; each one superb. We shared a table with friends we had made in the village and the whole evening was great fun.
War was declared against other tables with the chosen weapons being long balloons that could be aimed and let go of. The ballons would hurl across the room, farting merrily, and batter in to people. It was the sort of behaviour you would see at a seven year old's birthday party; absolutely hysterical.
Four hours later we bade a fond farewell to 2011 and welcomed in 2012.
The life changing year of our long walk, and the year of our big move, has now been and gone. The new year beckons and we are so excited about what it will bring.
Both of us were relatively sober as we staggered home at 03-15 on New Years day. God knows what it will bring us but we shall face it together. Happy New Year to you all.  

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