This is my original blog – all my blogs  since I started in 2009 - are here including those from The Ale Archive – all the beers I’ve sampled at home and on our travels since 2012.

Since 2012 most of our travel has involved a caravan. I now have a specific caravanning blog called (Get Your) Legs Down which documents all our trips and includes product reviews and pubs! It too is on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, 31 August 2018

A Single Life | “Cleared”

Firstly, as always, thank you for your comments and kind words about part 2. I’m really enjoying writing these, it’s very therapeutic. One of these days I’ll learn to type!

In this one I want to talk about going back to work. As I type this on it’s the end of our first week back and overall it’s been positive, however there have been poignant reminders of the seismic shift in my miniscule corner of the universe.

The process of going back to work actually started last week, with an INSET day on the Friday before he bank holiday weekend. I got a lift in with friend and , until the summer our Head of Transport, and kept a low profile in his office until it was time for our assembly. Before going in it was nice to have a few words with some of my colleagues in Transport, a couple of whom are going through a particularly tough time too just now.

Our summer INSET day is in reality and hour and a half of the heads of the schools - Senior, Prep & Pre-Prep welcoming everyone back and introducing new teachers. The acting head paid a nice tribute to Trev in his opening speech.

The Bursar introduced the new support staff, delivered some awful puns as per usual and also paid a nice tribute , not just to Trev but to another colleague who passed away last year after a battle with cancer.

Afterwards I caught up with the school Chaplain for a chat and whilst - as many of you know - I don’t do God in any form - his words and warmth were very comforting. We looked at possible dates too for Trev’s memorial which the college will host. More on that in another post soon.

And that was it - a nice gentle re-introduction to the work place. I must confess to being a little apprehensive but came away feeling more positive.

Work proper started Wednesday which meant a quick visit to pick up a minibus on Tuesday. Again, seeing just a few people, nice and low key, was good.

There was no problem getting up at silly o’clock on Wednesday and I’d probably laid awake for an hour waiting for the alarm to go off. I’ve found since  Trev’s death that although I can usually get to sleep - assisted by varying amounts of alcohol -  once I’ve been up for the usual nocturnal visit the mind goes into overdrive and I can rarely return to the land of nod. Getting up early to drive meant too that the grog the night before was a no-no which probably contributed to an even more restless night.

Anyway, the morning school run went fine - with some nice words from one of the kids too. They have more idea what’s going on at the school than most of the adults! One of the housekeeping staff who I pick up on the way through hadn’t heard the news so I explained what had happened mindful that he’d lost his wife after an illness only a few months previously.

It was the afternoon run, taking the kids home that it was all brought home again. Immediately after dropping the last kid off I used to send  Trev a text to say that I’m finished and on my way home. He’d know then roughly when to have dinner ready for. It was one word - “Cleared”. This time I even reached for the phone before realising it was something I wouldn’t be doing again. Whatever time dinner was ready was down to me now and there would be no-ne there to share the time up the table with. Just when you think you’re getting used to the new normal along comes something else to try and unbalance you.

Being around the school during the day - as I was for much of Thursday - was fine. Although we both worked for the school often our paths wouldn’t cross at all during the day such is the nature of our work as drivers. In fact watching the usual beginning of term chaos play out was quite comforting. Some things never change - cue the circus music.

Even the bus breaking down on Thursday night didn’t bother me too much. Ok, it was a pain in the derriere but another constant - we’ve had a few breakdowns with the current fleet. What was different however was that I didn’t have to call Trev and tell him I’d be late. There was no dinner in the oven at risk of getting spoilt. Trev would - out of solidarity - always wait until I got home before we ate, however late the hour, despite me urging him to get stuck in. None of that this time - in fact I didn’t really care what time I got home to be honest. It didn’t matter.

Despite only being back at work three days I was looking forward to the weekend, but as I drove back to the college this evening, I could feel myself getting lower. I knew I had a couple of things planned over the weekend but on Friday nights it was always the pub for a bite to eat and a couple of pints or a chippy. We’d digest the weeks goings on at work, have a laugh and a moan too and I really missed that tonight.

The chippy was good though and the accompanying Argentinian Malbec is softening the edges a bit.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

A Single Life | Food Glorious Food

Firstly, thanks for your comments on part 1 - as it has become. It’s lovely that so many of you found it interesting and encouraged I’ve been at it again. I expect the frequency will decrease as get through what I want to say but anyway, here goes

If there’s one thing about my new single life that holds no fear it’s domestic chores. Ok, I’m no domestic Goddess and give me plenty of notice if you’re coming around, but during our time together we both played our part. In the early days when Trev was taxi driving he’d have Saturday off but go in early Sunday morning hoping for juicy Heathrow or similar and could earn a days money in a few hours. I’d use the time to do the housework - ensuring my already ageing Technics Hi-Fi was given a good workout. The joys of living in a detached property. Down on the south coast at various times we both done our bit - most recently Trev had more free time so generally he did the lions share. My working pattern normally gives me most of Wednesday off - the morning and evening school run aside - and that’s when I plan to get caught up. There will obviously be less laundry to do to but I did think sleeping first one side of the bed then the other is probably a step to far in trying to save some  washing!

There was a couple of areas in which we didn’t cross over so much and the first is to my advantage - money. When we bought our first house together we decided to put everything in my name - although Trev’s bankruptcy had expired by then we just thought it best. Since then I’ve handled the bills, saved when we could and generally made our hard earned go as far as possible. I’d seek out the best deals for internet, utilities and so on. Neither of us were great wage earners but by keeping costs low we were able to enjoy lots of holidays as some of you heard at the funeral. Of course there’s only one income now but costs don’t halve - the service charges on the flat remain the same and I ain’t going to heat just one half of the lounge! More careful management though and I’ll be fine - and Patsy will still get regular use.

Something that is proving more of a challenge - and one that I’m actually quite enjoying is food. Trev used to do virtually all the cooking. I don’t recall why it started like that but it worked quite well - as a cabbie he’d start early but finish early so there’d be something on the table soon after I got in. In those early days our menu didn’t vary much - in fact the weekly shop was almost identical. When Trev packed in worked after the heart failure was diagnosed he did start experimenting more and was cooking stuff from scratch. Nothing fancy but it did me and I was always grateful for having a meal on the table.

The pattern continued when we moved down south - the only time it varied was when we were both doing school runs and not getting in until after seven in the evening - then he used to cook at lunchtime. Later when he became caretaker he was always home earlier and had the chance to grab a kip before preparing dinner for when I got home.

Since I’ve got home I’ve been managing largely  on ready meals - and have been happy enough to do that while I get myself sorted. I’ve tried to pick the lower fat options as one thing I really need to do is shift a bit of weight. Trouble is though one is never quite enough - I have a very healthy appetite, due partially no doubt to his lordship who never worried too much about portion control.

My working pattern means that I’m out of the house for a large part of the day and don’t want to be sitting down to eat too late, particularly when I need to get up so early. So I’ve been thinking back to the four years in the mobile home and what I used to eat. I was no chef but never went hungry and one of favourites was spaghetti Bolognese. Ok, it was using a jar of sauce but I’d occasionally chuck something else in for a bit of variety. With this in mind, this weekend  I cooked up two lots of mince and made up three portions each of beef chilli and bolognese for the freezer. This weekend the slow cooker is coming out and I’m pondering some sort of casserole and maybe a curry. The nearby carvery will get the benefit of my custom once a week and perhaps the chippy too. There’s plenty more to look at but I’ll always make sure there’s something quick in the fridge and I won’t go hungry - my belly won’t let me!

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

A Single Life

Right, if you've got this far and weren't put off by the title, you are reading something of a rarity. You see whilst I've been knocking out blog posts with varying degrees of regularity on my caravanning blog Get Your Legs Down, this is the first for many years that is exclusive to A Load of Nonsense.

I debated long and hard over the title - as I often do, but to be honest I couldn't find anything more suitable because it does suggest what this blog is about - my new life as a single person. Or Widow to be precise. I guess that makes me the Blogger in Black Widow then….

I’ll be honest though - always a good start, I’m not exactly sure where I’m going with this, or even if it will last but felt that there may be some interest in my new circumstances - although lets face it they’re hardly unique. I’ll try and look at the challenges created and also some of the opportunities too as well as how things have simply changed.

The other thing I pondered over was where to start this from. In reality my single life began on the morning of 1st August when Trev passed away so suddenly and unexpectedly. However I see little to be gained from dwelling on that period of time - and I shared much of it on social media anyway.

So, instead although I’m going to kick it off from today - the day before I’m back at work at the school as the new term kicks in, I will look back though at the last week - my first week alone in the flat.

There’s been plenty to remind me of the fact that there used to be two of us here. His & his towels and flannels, ditto toothbrush and toothpaste. Trev usually had some fancy shampoo on the go but I never bothered. More often than not we shared a shower gel though, the same with deodorant.

Whilst there’s a cupboard full of mugs we both had our favourites - and they sat on the drainer where we left them in July. The teapot - perfect for two now seemed way oversized. Thankfully we had one of Trev’s Mum’s collection of little teapots - and it’s the perfect size too. Oddly I’d forgotten how much water I used to put in the filter machine to make two mugs of coffee.

In the bedroom there was yet more reminders, not least his mountain of clothes - and to think he used to go on at me the cheeky sod! Whilst disposing of his clothes wont be easy - and I wont do it until I’m ready - I’m looking forward to the wardrobe space. Part of it will be used for more caravan paraphernalia (we don’t have a garage) and there may even ne room for another long leather coat. Or two……

He’d put the houseplants on the dining table before we left to give them as much light as possible. And whilst I knew where one of them went I hadn’t a clue with the other two. And still don’t! Just shows how much notice I took of them!

We had a recliner each in the lounge - black leather - obviously, and of course now one of those is empty. We bought them for our first place together in 2001 and although they’ve done well they’re certainly coming to the end of their life. I’m pondering a change around at some point, bringing either the desk or dining table in from the spare room so it doesn’t feel as big. It will mean too that I can ignore the  telly while using my laptop at the desk - instead of ignoring the telly while using my pad in the recliner!

Right, that’s part 1 - but will there be part 2? Do please let me know what you think and whether you’d carry on reading if I continued. What - if anything - do you want to hear about? Perhaps you would prefer a vlog rather than a blog post and I can see that might work. Above all be honest - if you think it’s a non-starter say so, I can take it. My shoulders are broad - figuratively anyway…

Cheers

Rich

Monday, 27 August 2018

The Triple Eight Tour | Part 5 - Essex

Yes, I did say the last blog post would be final one from the summer trip, but tidying up some files on the laptop this morning reminded me that I have quite a few photos from that leg of the trip.

The main reason for the long stop in Essex was a family wedding and we used most of the time to catch up on a few jobs - me editing some videos and writing blogs, and Trev giving Patsy’s exterior some TLC. It was pretty hot too, particularly in that first week but later on we did get back on the sightseeing trail. I’m not going to do my usual rambling look back at our exploits but I would like to share some of the photo’s with you, hopefully to give you a bit of inspiration should you find yourselves in this neck of the woods.

First was Bourne Mill, a National Trust property near Colchester:

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Then Wivenhoe:

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The next day saw us first in the pretty village of Dedham:

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Then it was the turn of Flatford, also under the stewardship of the National Trust:

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Sadly it is impossible to recreate the scene in Constable’s famous painting due to tree growth and water height. This was from roughly the same place though:

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Tuesday saw us in Colchester, following a Murder Mystery Treasure Trail:

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That evening, after a superb meal at the Layer Fox we went to check out the Abberton Reservoir, looking lovely as the sun went down. I wish I’d had the DSLR with me:

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And that was our last evening together.

Cheers and until next time,

Rich

Saturday, 25 August 2018

A catch up and looking ahead

Hi everyone, I thought I should do one last blog post bringing to and end my series of blogs on our summer getaway - The Triple Eight Tour - which ended so tragically.

Firstly, the funeral. A huge thank you to those that came to Cambridge last week. I meant so much to me to see so many there. I know that so many of you travelled considerable distances to come and pay their respects. It was heartening to see friends from all different parts of our life together, be it the early days in the shop, his time as a cabbie, our time on the south coast, and most recently our time as caravanners. Trev would have been well pleased to have such an audience and the service was as I had hoped and planned. I thought Vanessa - the Celebrant - was superb and told our story brilliantly as well as conducting a lovely warm service.

Thanks again to those that came to the wake. I’m sorry for not getting around to speak to everyone but just seeing you there was very heart-warming. I may have underestimated numbers slightly but I hope everyone had at least something to eat.

So, Tuesday not as hungover as you might perhaps think, was spent packing up the van - sorting out what was going home, staying, or going in the storage box. I probably repacked the car about three times. This is something Trev generally did, normally while I was on the laptop doing a blog or something. I had all day and it took me all day, finishing with a good hoover and dust.

That night I met with Pauline and our undertaker friend David for a meal and afterwards he presented me with Trev’s ashes. So I was able to spend at least one more night in Patsy with him and that meant a lot.

The M25 did it’s best to make the tow home as miserable as possible. Frequent periods of just sitting allowed my mind to wander from the task in hand to times past and at times it was very tough, but we eventually got back to the south coast unscathed and Patsy was soon back safely in her bay at the storage yard enjoying what is generally her longest rest of the year.

There’s no way around it - it was horrible going back to the flat on my own - although the number of sympathy cards lying on the doormat cheered me up and had a good read of them all over a cuppa before getting down to the task of unpacking and starting the washing.

I kept pottering, doing little bits throughout the afternoon and evening but the expected tidal wave of emotion arrived at night. I know many of you will have experienced something similar and there really is nothing to do but ride it out. There will be more I know but the last couple of days have been easier.

And that’s where I’m going to draw a line under the events of the summer. I’m am pondering the occasional blog about adapting to be life as a single person, or indeed Widow but that will be on my other blog A Load of Nonsense. If I do decide to start typing I’ll put it out on all the usual platforms.

So, looking ahead as we must. One question I’ve been asked several times is “ Will you keep caravanning?”. That answer to that one is easy. Yes! My next trip is in October and for the second half of that I will be returning to Crystal Palace - for the last time, before it closes in December. We booked this months ago and wanted to pay one final visit and it holds many happy memories not least because it was the destination for our first ever trip back in March 2012.

I have cancelled plans we had to meet with friends in Devon for Christmas and will instead be staying in Colchester near my cousin Andy for at least a few days over Christmas and probably in East Anglia for the remainder.

Simple mathematics means that I won’t be able to go away as much and I might look to more cheaper CL type sites which also has me pondering solar panels and gas usage. I’ll probably see how next year goes though before making any decisions about what will be sizable investments.

Patsy is definitely staying. I’ve no need or reason to downsize and have found in the last three weeks that I’m quite capable of taking up a lot of space on my own! Rosie, despite her advancing years and ever increasing mileage performed superbly throughout the summer and I hope she will last a lot longer. She really is a superb tow car.

Right, enough, almost. I must once again give thanks for the truly awesome support you’ve all given me on what has undoubtedly been the worst time of my life. Your encouragement and kind words about Trev  really did make all the difference and I’m so lucky to have so may people that I can genuinely call friends.

Thanks again and until next time,

Cheers

Rich

Hold



Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Update & Funeral Arrangements

Hi everyone, this may seem a slightly odd way of imparting such information but it’s the easiest way to reach the largest number of people.

Firstly, the post mortem. I’ve heard today (Tuesday) from the Coroner and they have determined the cause of Trev’s sudden death. It’s essentially as we thought but I’ll give you the medical terms and describe them as they were to me. Please feel free to skip the next bit if you wish:

Firstly, Ischemic Heart Disease - thickening of the walls of the heart, a natural consequence of getting older.

Secondly, Coronary Artery Atheroma - a plaque like substance restricting the flow of blood to major organs such as the lungs. Again, age related.

Two important things were mentioned by the Coroner - his death would have been very quick and he would have known little about it - and there was nothing more that could have been done to save him. Having seen what happened on the day those were already my thoughts.

Right, the funeral.

The service will be in Cambridge at the City Crematorium on Monday 20th August at Midday. All are of course welcome although I realise it’s a long journey for many. Please don’t feel guilty for not coming. For those that do, there is no dress code. Trev was happy as Larry in shorts and a t-shirt and if that’s what you’d like to wear that’s fine by me. Equally, if you would prefer something more formal, that’s fine too.

There will be a get together afterwards but that’s not finalised yet.

Family flowers only please but donations to Papworth Hospital Charitable Trust would be welcome. Again, no obligation but I know many of you have already. Thank you.

The service will be streamed online and available for seven days afterwards. Please email me at legsdown@outlook.com if this is of interest and I’ll supply access details once I have them.

In addition Trev’s (and mine) employer - Brighton College - would like to host a memorial service in their lovely chapel at some point in the future. Again, all welcome. No date yet but of course I’ll let you know.

Ok, I think that’s everything for now. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: Thanks for all your messages of support. They really do mean so much.

Cheers & Beers

Rich

Friday, 3 August 2018

The Triple Eight Tour | Sad News

Whilst I know the majority of you reading this will have already heard the sad news, there may be some that haven’t, so here goes.

On the morning of the 1st August Trev suffered what we currently believe to be a massive heart attack. We’d just had a morning cuppa, I’d got up to go to the washroom and Trev was sitting on the edge of his bed readying to get up. He keeled over onto the aisle in between the two beds, completely unresponsive as he went down. I called 999 and managed to get him on his back to start CPR until the ambulance arrived. They were very quick and were soon joined by the air ambulance too. They worked on him for an hour but to no avail.

He was pronounced dead at 0940.

Currently I am waiting on the Coroner to see if they want to do a PM and can’t move things forward until then.

When they do release his body, I will be taking him home, to Cambridge. We had many very happy years on the south coast but Trev was born and brought up in Cambridge. We met there and he spent most of his life there. It was a city he loved very much and was extremely proud of.

I know many friends around Brighton will want to pay their respects and I am pondering a number of possibilities with that in mind and will of course be in touch when things become clearer.

It’s been a truly awful few days. I’ve felt heartache and and sense of loss I didn’t think possible - and I know many reading this know exactly what I mean. We’ve known each other over thirty years and been through some very good times. Trev was a rock when I lost my parents and I hope I was able to help him cope with the loss of a sister, brother, then his dear old Mum.

However it’s a time that’s been made more bearable thanks to my cousin and his family who live nearby and by all the wonderful messages of support I’ve received online through social media. It really has helped me through and it’s heart-warming to know that he was held in such high regard by so many.

There’s a little video to say thank you on the YouTube channel. That’s all for now.

Cheers

Rich

P.S. Thanks to Dan Trudgian for this wonderful photo of Trev. I will treasure it forever.

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Trevor John Webdale -12th March 1954 - 1st August 2018