November has proved to be a very strange and diverse month with huge family announcements. Having spent the last 5 days of October in Tenerife celebrating Barlie’s 30th birthday with Izzy, it was back to Northampton and Barlie’s house on the 31st October. I stayed the night as my new bike was arriving by courier the next day and I had to sign for it…..I wasn’t complaining as it was another night in a proper bed!
Carlos drove the van to Sywell, where we had a pitch booked at Glebe Farm for the next 4 nights and was not too far to Landcross Drive, where we needed to be. We were going to spend this time catching up on paperwork, washing etc
On the 1st of November, I took possession of my E-bike…..the Cube! A bike with a battery to enable me to ride to new heights without much effort! However, it arrived with a flat tyre…so after several phone calls, an inner tube was to be sent by courier to arrive the next day……for me, another night at Barlie’s…..for Carlos, another night with Archie in a field!
4th November saw another digression from van life as I had to hire a car so I could drive to South Lodge in Leicester on the following Monday for ma’s assessment by CHC for the continuation of her funds.
5th November we drove both the van and the hire car to Rutland Water where we were to be based for the next 7 nights at Sweethedges Farm, near Uppingham. On arrival we quickly realised the location was anything but Sweet! There had been so much rain we were unable to camp further than the entrance to the site which had the only hardstanding area. So the van stayed parked in between to huge fir trees.
The above photos are of Uppingham including the famous school and the church in the square.
6th November I left early on the first frosty morning of winter. The countryside looked beautiful bathed in a blanket of white frost with blue skies and the morning sun streaming through the trees. My route took me past Skeffington, where my cousin Chris Bater lives, followed by Tugby, where my aunt, Kathryn Lane lives (dad’s step sister) and past the turn off for Hungarton where my cousin Michael Bater lives. Another cousin, Kevin Bater lives near Thurnby. The ghosts of my past were hurtling past me and memories of another life were flooding my mind. Turning at Stoughton, I cut across the Leicestershire countryside to arrive at South Lodge, where mum lives. The meeting started at 10am and there were 5 adults in my mum’s little bedroom. A social worker, the CHC healthcare worker, Linda the nurse, me and mum. 3 hours of gruelling questions to ascertain whether mum qualified for CHC funding ended in disbelief and despair. Mum, who has Parkinson’s, wheelchair bound and nursed and cared for 24 hours a day, had her funding cut from £800 a week to £155.05…….the implications are very depressing……
7th November another car journey but this time to Birmingham airport to collect Becki who has come to the UK to celebrate mum’s 82nd birthday.
10th November mum’s 82nd birthday! Becki and I drove to Leicester early. We arrived to find mum already had visitors; her brother Michael & his wife Lindsay. We had organised a taxi to take mum into town for lunch a bit of shopping and generally to be spoilt on her birthday. Lunch was at Carlucci’s, which was a huge disappointment. However, a visit to a chocolate shop meant yummy treats to be had. We then headed to John Lewis where mum brought several nice things for her birthday…..we walked past the Christmas shop which made mum cry! We had tea and chocolates at Cafe Rouge before heading back to South Lodge. Mum enjoyed her day and managed to speak to her sister Jane who was in Florida visiting her daughter, Samantha. All her grandchildren wished her happy birthday and her room was filled with cards, chocolates, cakes and fairy lights!
11th November and a phone call from Izzy……she has been diagnosed with Tinnitus and so after a long conversation, it was decided I should fly up to Aberdeen on Sunday to support her. A flight was booked to fly from Birmingham just less than an hour before Becki was due to fly back to Koln. So another twist in our van life had occurred and Carlos agreed he would drive up to Scotland and meet me in Aberdeen.
12th November Becki & I drove to Birmingham airport and we bade farewell until Christmas. I arrived in Aberdeen in the dark…..it was absolutely freezing and pouring with rain. Jamie & Izzy picked me up and we drove back to their new flat on Holburn Place. I was so happy I made the decision to support Izzy as she had only moved into her new flat 3 days before and I was able to help her & Jamie to unpack. It’s a gorgeous flat on the ground floor of a huge granite house with enormous ceilings. Two bedrooms, a large lounge and a wonderful bathroom as well as a large dining area and a well equipped kitchen. Jamie soon had a sausage pasta dish on the go and we sat down amongst the chaos and caught up with all our news. It was delicious!
14th November Carlos arrived in Stonehaven, a small coastal town south of Aberdeen. Our campsite for the next 11 days was situated right next to the beach and within walking distance to the town. I could hear the sea at night as I lay in bed. Stonehaven is a very pretty fishing town with a sandy horseshoe bay. We ate the best fish & chips here at ‘The Bay’ in fact so good we ate them twice in one week! Next door was Betty’s Ice cream parlour which had an ice cream named after Prince Harry…..Izzy reliably tells me the queues to get in either of these places in the summer, is very long!
Stonehaven is not only the birthplace of the inventor of the Pneumatic tyre, Robert Thomson but more importantly, the town who invented the ‘Deep fried Mars bar’! I confess, I didn’t try one……
Stonehaven’s pebble beach.
16th November we drove north of Aberdeen to Newburgh, a beautiful wild coastline and an area known as Forvie sands, which has huge sand dunes and is flanked by the river Ythan. It is an incredible landscape which for all the world, looks like the Sahara desert. Archie absolutely loved running up and down these huge dunes. The beach was almost deserted but for a large colony of seals, who were sun bathing on the shores of the beach. As we walked along the coastline, every now again, we would see a seals head pop up out of the sea and they looked, for all the world, like they were following us as we walked along the shoreline, in fact they were just as inquisitive of us, as we were of them.
Archie running amongst the dunes!
18th November a sunny Saturday….a lie in….a girlie chat…a leisurely breakfast before spending the day in Aberdeen shopping. It was just me & Izzy as the men had gone hiking up in the Cairngorms. We walked into town, had lunch before mooching around the shops. It has been a very long time since we had had a day to ourselves and it was glorious.
20th November….an engagement
Barlie & Kieron got engaged……So happy for them….
21st November…..Barlie’s 30th birthday. I woke late, my phone had died the night before and so at sometime around 10am, Carlos handed me his phone and Barlie was on the other end…..’moma, where have you been? I’ve been awake since 5am….I have some news for you!’ We cried…..well I cried, so over joyed at the news and so, so happy…..My beautiful Barlie is engaged to Kieron, a wonderful man…..welcome to the family.
23rd November time to say goodbye to Izzy & Jamie with a last supper. It has been wonderful to spend time in Aberdeen, helping them unpack and set up their new flat and it was lovely to spend time with Izzy.
24th November we drove west out of Aberdeen towards Balmoral, Ballater and Braemar. The weather had changed and it had snowing. The highlands looked magnificent blanketed in white but the roads were good for driving. Temperatures were -6 with a wind chill of -12. More on Scotland to follow….