Just over a year ago we left our house in good hands and set off on an adventure. We spent five months in Scotland, exploring the North Coast 500, the Isle of Tiree and numerous other corners of this fine land. After four weeks at home we set off for a six and a half month tour of Europe taking in, Holland, Belgium, Germany, France, Spain and Portugal. It’s nearly impossible for us to believe that a year has passed and the adventure is over – for now. We’ve been home for just over a week and we’re beginning to adjust to life in a house again. We’re also reflecting a bit on the adventure we’ve had and its impact on our view of life.
Coming Home: The best bits
Family and friends are at the top of the list. Our time away has taught us that the most important things in life are people. Of course we haven’t seen everyone yet and there are some, like oldest son Robert and family who are thousands of miles away but gradually resettling into being around many of the people we love is a great antidote to the post trip blues. What amazes us is that while we’ve been having this incredible adventure, things here have been ticking along pretty much as normal. So we’re dropping back into normal – well as normal as we can manage.
Our house is quite big. The kitchen alone is bigger than the entire living space in the motorhome. We find ourselves wandering around looking for one another and losing things all the time. We’ve loved having baths, sleeping in a massive bed, cooking without having to constantly shuffle things around on a tiny work surface and lounging on a big sofa. We’ve watched some TV, although it’s appeal has waned after months of very little access to it. There’s a lot of shouting on the television – I hadn’t really appreciated how much before, although appreciate isn’t really the right word. We’ve become accustomed to a quiet life and, as you might expect, the quiet life crept up on us quietly. We talked a lot about selling the house while we were away. Now we’re back we’re not quite so sure. It is big – much too big for two – but it’s comfortable and it has an important role in being an antidote to living in a tiny space when we’re away.
After so long away we’ve had to make appointments for all the usual health checks to make sure we’re still in one piece. Doctor, dentist and hairdresser, vet, dog groomer and optician. By the end of the first week back we felt a bit overwhelmed. Looking after bodies is a time consuming business, especially if you try to do it all in a week. We’ve rejoined the council gym, which is an excellent resource that is incredibly cheap for those of us over a certain age. We’ve played three full hours of badminton already and we’re still standing, if a bit stiffly in the mornings. Shirley has applied for her bus pass – in Scotland we still get one of these when we turn sixty. Sorry if you live somewhere that you have to wait until you are much older. There is much to appreciate about life in Scotland and we’re reminded of these things daily.
Getting back home meant buying a calendar and putting appointments into it. We’ve not needed to do that for six months and there’s no doubt that living without appointments has a lot of appeal. We’ve been completely chilled for most of the time we’ve been away with most decisions being of the ‘shall we stay or move on today?’ variety. Life in the real world is a tad more complicated.
Living a Double Life
When we were on our way home we experienced a lot of mixed feelings. We had loved the trip so much; the feeling of freedom, the variety of places to see, the sunshine, the new friends we’d made – it was hard to think of giving it up. At the same time we were looking forward to being at home, spending time with friends and family, spreading out, playing our musical instruments, driving a small car, going to the cinema, having a bath … there was quite a list. At first it felt like a dilemma, now it feels like we can have both. We can be at home for part of the year and be away the rest. We have choices. This reminds me of an old monk I used to go and visit many years ago. He would often remind me that I had choices, although at the time I didn’t actually take advantage of them. “True poverty,” he would say “is having no choice.” And I knew that he was reminding me that there are some who really have no choice and others who don’t take advantage of the choices they have.
I’ve said this often but here it is again, ‘How lucky are we?’