I set my alarm last night so that I could get up and say goodbye to Claire’s boys, so start the day earlier than in a while. I have not slept well, but wave them off and then wait for Claire to leave for work and hug her goodbye, with the promise of meeting at the weekend. Lying in a hot bath I plan what I have to do in the next few days and get my head ready for the journey home. After I leave Wokingham I drive the M4 and make my way to Carole and Ian’s in Foxham. I am so happy to be back here and get the Hobby into position by the canal at the end of their garden, by driving through their neighbour’s garden.
I have a cup of tea with Carole while we wait for Ian and the girls to come home and catch up. After a walk in the locale, which entails climbing a hill, straddling gates and being stunned by a view over Wiltshire towards Bristol, we walk along the canal that was just a ditch when they arrived. Ian basically dug it out and after the lock was built by the preservation society, it filled up naturally with water and then ducks arrived. It’s amazing what can be achieved in ten years. Carole and Ian are hippies at heart and live a lovely life in the country when not saving lives.
I told some of my story and a goblet of wine appears by my side. Inwardly I groaned a little, but wanting to have a small drink I accept. I tell my story in accents appropriate to the region I am talking about and the room fills with laughter. I used to have a meal with my girls when they were little in an accent and make the girls try it out. Ian’s girls love it and over dinner requests are made for more stories. The goblet is a magical one that fills itself once it starts to empty. Ian was sat next to me and I was not fully aware of the filling and God only knows how much I actually consumed, but at some point found myself quite squiffy and moved the glass away. I had a great evening and loads of fun was had by the company. After the girls went to bed we carried on chatting and eventually I realised that I had sat on hard kitchen chairs since arriving and listened to my body begging to lie on something soft, so went to bed, escorted to the door by torchlight and my old friend. We stood by the door of the Hobby looking at the very nearly full moon and I told him about Deb’s i-phone ap.
After taking his leave I climb gratefully into bed and ignore my screaming neck and shoulders. I know it is going to rain as my body is an accurate barometer. About half an hour later it pours and rains throughout the night.
I sleep very badly and at half seven get up to say goodbye to the girls and get hugged warmly. I am touched. These young women hardly know me and yet we are already old friends. They are lovely and I have enjoyed them immensely. Ian has a boys drinking day organised, so leaves soon after themto catch a train and we hug goodbye with promises to not leave it so long. I hope not.
While Carole drives him to the station I have the luxury of wallowing in their enormous double ended caste iron bath. I remember when they had it fitted, reinforcing the floor in the most serious fashion to accommodate the weight. What a luxury after so many weeks with what has ranged from a wet wipe to a shower to have two days of wallowing in hot water. It does something to restore my back. While I am there I text my osteopath and make an appointment to see him next week for a much needed beasting.
Carole and I spend some time over lunch before I leave and cross the tiny bridge again to move onto Hinton Charterhouse where Leanda has just got back from shopping for the whole world. The journey in between is short, but I always love the pale sandstone brick buildings in that area of Wiltshire and enjoy the road.
I am shattered and feel as if I am working at 30%. All I really want to do is lie down and nap, but keep my old school friend company for the afternoon and we catch up with what we have been up to.Leanda’s world is spent running around after four boys and I get more tired just watching. After dinner I escape to the Hobby, parked in the pub car park opposite and write my day up. She asked me if I would like to stay another day and spend time with her, tempting me with a cycle into Bradford on Avon in the morning along the canal…how can I resist. I aim to have a cup of tea after posting this and crashing. I was going to leave tomorrow and sleep in a layby, but to stay another night here will do no harm