mental health, Moving home, Philosophy, Uncategorized

Homecoming

Berwyn mountains

There is a Welsh word, Hiraeth, for which there is no direct translation in to English. It conveys a mix of homesickness, a longing to be back in Wales and a love for all things Welsh. After just a few months of being back in my home country I have begun to realise that I may have been suffering from Hiraeth without even knowing it.

Before our move we lived in  a beautiful part of Cornwall, close to Dartmoor and the wild and spectacular North Cornish coast; we were spoilt with choice whenever we fancied taking a walk or wanted to show off to visitors the beautiful part of the world in which we lived but somehow I always felt disconnected, a little out of joint with my surroundings, as if I was on a long holiday.

I left mid Wales when I was eighteen to begin the journey of my adult life by living in Chester and training to be a Primary teacher; from here I moved to Bristol in the South West, married and then spent two years in South Africa before returning to the UK and settling in Gloucestershire, later moving north to Lancashire and finally down to Cornwall. Throughout this meandering part of my life I have always returned to mid Wales regularly to visit family and maintain a connection and whether arriving from the North or the South I always felt a sagging in my shoulders and a soft sigh escape me as I crossed the border and felt myself wrapped around again in the soft hills and muted shades of the countryside. Apart from my two years in South Africa I had never been away for longer than three months without paying a visit, however short, and never failed to leave feeling a sense of renewal and with something deep and inexplicable having shifted within me.

Our decision to move back to this corner of Wales, unheard of by most people, was prompted by a wish to be closer to my elderly father, still in mid Wales and my children and grandchildren living in the North of England. The decision was confirmed by the low cost of property and the peaceful existence and stunning scenery. As is the norm the move was tiring and stressful, there were unforeseen complications and difficulties but now some 4 months down the line we are able to enjoy the new house and area. We can leave our house and immediately take one of four paths and soon find ourselves on the hillsides where the scenery is simply breathtaking and the air is filled with tranquility. Never before have I appreciated the amazing trees in Wales, oak, ash, beech and birch, chestnut and horse chestnut, willow and cherry abound throughout the valley and many of them have such an air of permanence and longevity that just to walk among them is balm to the mind and soul.

We Celtic races have a deep connection to our homeland but this move has brought home to me the intensity of that link as never before. Finally I feel at home, I fit in here, I connect easily with the people around me and my husband has been amazed and astounded at the friendliness and kindness of people and their lack of wanting to make money from every situation. Tradespeople know that their next job is worth more than the £10 they could charge for a call out fee and would rather have your good will and word of mouth recommendation. There is a true spirit of community and people are valued for who and what they are and not what they do and what they own.

I have been a nomad for over fifty years and although I have made many friends and enjoyed much of my travelling it is truly special to finally have come home.

mental health, Moving home, Philosophy, Uncategorized

Life’s little surprises

It has been over two months since I last wrote anything on my Blog and now it feels as though so much has happened that I don’t really know where to begin. I expected a break due to moving house, what I hadn’t bargained for was over 6 weeks with out phone line or internet due to the incompetence of BT; an on running saga that I wouldn’t bore my worst enemy with.

Just as I was recovering from the stress of the move, the inevitable legal issues, lack of fuel delivery, newly ordered furniture going astray….and so on…it was time to be ‘Granny’ for a week and care for my 3 year old grandson which was a joy but brought a different kind of exhaustion by day 7. Now I was no longer just mentally tired but every bone ached from endless visits to the park, long walks, train rides and sitting on the floor to make the Pirate puzzle for the twentieth time in a day!

One young man headed for home with his parents and I collapsed in to an armchair for a snooze before clearing up the house, removing Lego bricks from the fridge, finding a stray sock under the bed, sorting out the pieces of at least five Thomas the Tank Engine jigsaws and slowly feeling the house settle back in the rhythm of two middle aged people. The peace was balm but I missed the cuddles and the bedtime stories, the endless questions and the sheer delight when he came across anything new.

Within a couple of day I felt a spring in my step again, only to be floored by  the news that my 93 year old father had been given a diagnosis of bladder cancer and was due to go in to hospital on Aug 24th. Thankfully he is otherwise very well, has now had his surgery which successfully removed all signs of the early stage tumour and he will need no further treatment. So after a few days he is now back at home, and having stayed with him to make sure he was coping, I am now back in my own home. I am in awe of his resilience, positivity and gratitude for his treatment; as I left him today he had his diary out making plans for seeing his friends within the week.

I have had a sign in my home for many years which reads :This too shall pass and whilst visiting Dad in hospital he told me that he always looks at it when he visits and how much it had helped him through the last few weeks. We talked about the simple truth of it, both good and bad times always pass, nothing lasts for ever and it is worth remembering to treasure the good moments because we know they will pass and not be worn down by the hard times because they too will come to an end.

Many years ago when running a workshop on lie skills I met an amazing American lady who encapsulated this thought neatly by likening life to a ride on the Big Wheel. In her words,

” Honey when you’re at the bottom and your feet are in the sh.. the only place you’re going is up to the blue skies but do remember as you sit at the top looking out at the wonderful view, the only place you’re going is back to the bottom !”

What a metaphor for life and one that has certainly been apparent in my life over the last few weeks and months. And right now, I feel that I’m starting to move slowly to the top of the Big Wheel again, the skies are blue and the sun is shining so I shall do my best to treasure it all.

Moving home, Uncategorized

Britain wasn’t programmed for heat like this

Heat_Wave

For most of the time we bask in a temperate climate, hovering between 14 and 24 degrees and we are attuned to this; this is what we expect in Britain and today as I continue to pack boxes and delve deep in to the recesses of dusty cupboards it is 31 degrees here in Cornwall. It is just too hot!!

Dressed only in shorts and vest top my body swiftly disposes of each glass of water that I drink by sweating profusely. I know in the annals of English literature that horses sweat, men perspire and ladies glow but here and now in June 2017 this lady is sweating and it isn’t pretty or comfortable. To add to the situation the pollen count is through the roof and I am suffering with hay fever so both sweaty and sneezy. I can see that I am painting a good picture here and whilst my husband can’t understand why I have taken time out to sit and type this but in some weird way having a rant has helped!!

Now that my frustrations have been expressed I shall go and make a cool refreshing salad and wash it down with a cold glass of wine. Thanks for being there fellow bloggers.

Moving home, Uncategorized

The Last Lap

snail-after-the-rain

The race has been a long one, much more of a marathon than a cross country, not the sprint for which I had hoped. We seem to have been training for ever (in reality 18 months), regular work outs on line to sift through the hundreds of available properties, intense sessions of pounding pavements as we walked the streets of towns large and small in search of that special place which would call to us and feel like home. Moments when the end seemed to be in sight but at the last minute the tape was moved and yet another 1,000 metres was added to our race.

Now we feel sure that that tape is back in view; our running shoes are wearing thin along with our energy and patience. We have trawled through our cupboards discarding the memorabilia of past races to move house, sifted through the debris from our early years keeping only those things which delight and hold true sentimental value and memories to pass on to the children and grandchildren and the packing boxes now stand empty waiting for us to begin the last lap of this race.

Although we have loved living in our present home I can feel myself slowly disconnecting and letting it go; I feel ready to hand it over to the delightful couple who want to make their home here and with each day that passes my focus turns evermore to the new house, the excitement of new beginnings and life across the finishing line.

I have moved home many times during my life but I can honestly say that I have never experienced such a tough and trying challenge as this one. Emotionally there was much bound up in this move as the reason was to be closer to the rest of our family, both young and old and I was stupidly optimistic at the start, imagining that all would be straight forward. How wrong I was this time as we were plagued by the aftermath of Brexit, a slump in the housing market and the fact that our house was a ‘ one off’ and needed just the right buyers. Our moods have risen and dipped, soared and slumped in tune with our energy levels but finally the end is in sight and like the snail we have just a short crawl until we make it to the finish.

So forgive me if I am rather quiet for the next few weeks as physically I shall be tired but also elated, mentally exhausted but also energised with the thought of creating a new home and practically I shall be waiting for British Telecom to connect me to the internet again and guess what?….. they move at snail’s pace!

Moving home

Far too much choice

Now that we have come to terms with the sale of our house and the fact that almost  all of our furniture has been included in the deal we are faced with having a beautiful new home and the task of choosing new tables, chairs, beds and sofas not to mention soft furnishings, lighting, rugs and so the list goes on. Over the last twelve years since we have been together we have slowly replaced some pieces of furniture, fitted a new blind, painted a room and updated the cushions and throws but we have never had to contemplate such a spending spree. Initially I thought this would be fun, an adventure, an exciting opportunity to create a new home and make it unique and individual. What we hadn’t been prepared for was the absolutely mind boggling amount of choice with which we would be confronted.

Our first purchase was a sofa and matching armchair which we saw on passing a furniture store, both immediately liked and fitted our requirements in size, colour and price. This lured us in to a false sense of security. Deciding we would like a wing backed armchair in a contrasting colour – plum, damson, claret, aubergine I foolishly Googled and found myself on one site alone being presented with 347 chairs and that was just in the UK. By the time I reached the 40s I’d become so confused there was no option other than to close the computer down and reach for a refreshing glass of chilled Sauvignon. Over the last week this pattern has been repeated over and over again with everything from pendant lights to silver grey curtains, from rugs to bedding. Since when did we need this amount of choice?

Is it just me that finds the prospect of sifting through more than 300 armchairs daunting rather than pleasurable? I had hoped that the internet would provide me with help in narrowing my options and so saving me from trailing around endless stores, and I suppose to some extent this is happening but so many of the items seen on the internet are internet only. In other words you are expected to order your furniture, your lights, your rugs and curtains without actually seeing them in the flesh as it were. There is an argument that says this is perhaps not so bad when you are buying a pair of curtains; if the colour or fabric are not what you expect you can soon return the goods and receive a refund. But what of a dining table and six chairs, a purchase of around £1,000? Are there really people who are happy to blindly order having only seen the items on line? How do you return a dining table?

Clearly I haven’t moved with the times as much as I thought I had; I happily purchase a new dress or pair of shoes on line but large items of furniture are a step too far. After many hours spent on a complex selection process we finally narrowed down our choice of armchair and were relieved to see that we could actually visit a store some twenty miles away and actually sit in it before ordering one in the colour of our choosing. Thankfully the chair turned out to be every bit as comfortable as we had hoped, the colour swatches were available in store so I now have a sample to take around with me as we pick up accessories for the room and we have completed purchase number 2! Its going to be a long haul to complete the house and we are going to have develop greater powers of selection or perhaps deselection as we move from living room to bedroom, bathroom to kitchen in our search for items that attract our attention and fit the brief. Either that or our wine consumption will be steadily rising!

After all that here is the chosen chair.

 

Aplum chair

 

Moving home

Time has a speed of its own

 

The Tortoise And The Hare

I’m certain that many of you can recall the famous tale of the Hare and the Tortoise and I have found myself thinking about this childhood tale many times over the last few months and in particular the last week. Those of you who follow my blog will know that we have been trying to sell our home in Cornwall and move closer to the family. This process has been ongoing for over a year and having made the momentous decision to sell and move , we never expected things to take such a time. Whilst we coped with the slow housing market of 2016, courtesy of Brexit and the accompanying uncertainty, listened to the myriad strange reasons why our house wasn’t quite right for people, time seemed to move more slowly, the days on occasions achingly long. Each new set of viewers would see our spirits rise only to be dashed again as they found us too rural, not rural enough, too quiet or not quiet enough, and we would retreat to lick our wounds and press on albeit slightly more slowly each time and with just a little less energy.

An optimist by nature even my initially positive attitude was struggling and whilst not saying it aloud I had come to believe that we would never find a purchaser and that my dream of being able to help my father in his final years and spend more time with the grandchildren, was slowly being extinguished. My husband though remained steadfast. In contrast to me he is perhaps not a pessimist, rather a pragmatist and he had never been convinced that we would get a quick sale as our house is ‘quirky’ and would only be bought when the right person walked through the door and fell in love. His mantra over the last year has been,” It will happen”. And now he has been proved right and in such an extraordinary way. The house has been bought by a couple who have not even viewed it in person!

Two weeks ago viewers were booked and all we were told was that they were viewing on behalf of their parents who were moving to Cornwall from Yorkshire to be closer to their family…. here the coincidences begin. We assumed that they would take a look, report back to their parents and that they would then visit at a later date if the feedback had been positive. Imagine our surprise when the next day we received a call from the agent to say that on the recommendation of their daughter, the older couple wished to make an offer. In the days that followed we went through the usual nonsense of house buying in UK where offers were refused, increased and accepted. In addition this couple had sold their apartment complete with furniture so then asked if they could purchase some of ours, in particular the larger pieces which we had already decided to part with as they wouldn’t suit the new home we were hoping to buy! So, after all these months of one step forward and three back we are now moving like the hare at breakneck speed; the chain is short, all are cash buyers and the consensus is for the move to happen as soon as possible, certainly within 6 – 8 weeks.

Time is now flying by as lists are made, removers booked, cupboards turned out and decisions made on what to keep and what can be sold, what treasured items cannot possible be left behind and which of those unwanted Christmas gifts can be donated to charity. Suddenly we have no time to spare and the days are filling up with chores, meetings and visits to the new house where there are many exciting things to decide on as we consult with the builder over kitchen fittings, wall colours and carpets.

I have always been a hare by nature, loving the satisfaction of a task completed and the magical moment of crossing an item from my list but the last year has taught me that there is no need to throw myself at every task, things will get done even if I approach the list more slowly and we will be ready on the appointed day. When I begin to feel over tired and stressed with that niggling ache in my shoulders and neck all I have to do is watch my tortoise, moving more slowly than me, taking time out for a cup of tea and to read the paper but still achieving all he set out to do. Every hare needs a tortoise.