This is my original blog for all our non-caravanning trips since 2009 and more recently posts about coming to terms with being single again having been widowed in 2018. And anything else too really!

My caravanning blog is (Get Your) Legs Down and all our trips in the caravan are there. My grog blog is The Ale Archive where I list every beer I’ve ever tried.

Friday, 16 November 2018

A Single Life | Loose Ends

Hello again and welcome back.

It’s now nearly three months since I began my new life as a single person back home in the flat and in this blog post I thought I’d take a look at how things seem to be going - from my perspective anyway.

Practically I’m certainly getting on ok. The flat is clean and mostly tidy, the freezer is full of pre-prepared meals, so much so that only this week I picked up a second-hand table top freezer so I can increase my menu choices and have plenty of room to pick up some bargains.

There were times in our relationship when I thought to myself that I’m doing everything in this bloody house - and I can guarantee that Trev on occasion would have felt the same. However, when there  really is just you doing it all it’s noticeable how chores do eat in to your free time. Most of my working days are long but I do have pockets of time in which I can pop home for an hour or so and it’s these periods that I try and get stuff done, be it a quick hoover, emptying the washing machine or cooking a batch of something. It’s my idea to try and keep weekends free to get on with stuff I enjoy and that’s been working quite well.

If there’s one thing that hasn’t been going so well is sleep. Whilst I’m getting off to sleep ok I’m also invariably waking early and can’t get back, feeling tired all day as a result. I’m reluctant to take anything, conscious that I have to get up early to drive and want to be alert for that. There has been the odd night that’s been better so I’m hoping that’s a sign things are starting to improve but whilst - as I mentioned above - I’m getting on with household chores - and my job - the tiredness is definitely having an impact elsewhere. I have a number of videos to edit for my caravanning YouTube channel but currently find it hard to concentrate on them. Having said that, last nights sleep wasn’t too bad so it’s my plan, after finishing this and a coffee to get stuck in.

Recently too I’ve also taken the big step of clearing out Trev’s clothes. I’d been ready for a while but a cancelled sports run meant a free Friday morning so I decided it was time to get on with it. I chose Martlets Hospice who have a big shop just a few miles along the road and they were happy to take all his stuff assuring me none of it will be wasted. His numerous pairs of spectacles went in the Lions collection point in our local GP’s surgery and will be re-used probably abroad. It was always my wish that as little as possible of his stuff would be wasted.

In fact in terms of getting rid of stuff there is just his push bike left and I’m hoping to deal with that this week. It’s nothing special and years old - what we used to call a mountain bike I guess, but it still goes and probably only needs a couple of tyres to get it up to scratch.

The tidying of Trev’s financial affairs are about complete. A letter advising the death in service benefit arranged by the college arrived on Friday and I can now go ahead and close his bank account. And that, I think will be it. Done and dusted. Weird.

Whether these recent events have had any bearing on how I feel I can’t say for sure, but I’m aware of changes in the last couple of weeks. The waves of grief that I’ve often mentioned have been rather benign of late, unless they’ve been encouraged. You see I’ve found myself a couple of times a week or so drawn to do things that I know will bring the tears - reading the transcript of the celebrants oratory at the funeral, ditto the two lovely addresses at the memorial and of course listening to the music. Twenty minutes to half an hour give or take when the emotion is as raw and intense as the day Trev died. And then I’m ok - exhausted but ok. In addition there have been days when I haven’t done this but felt generally low - getting on with the job but not really wanting human interaction.

There’s been a definite shift in my emotions and I mentioned this to someone privately who steered my in the direction of a book that I now have on order. It’s called ‘On Grief & Grieving’  by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler. Both are well regarded in their field and having read reviews and a sample chapter I think it might go some way to helping my understand my feelings and how and why they are changing.

I am too, contemplating for the first time thinking of seeking some help - someone professional I can talk to. I know many of you have said you will listen  - and thank you for that - but it wouldn’t feel right or fair unloading my innermost thoughts on to people I know. I’ll see how it goes after I’ve read this book.

Right, enough. I’m going to call an end to the Single Life series now. It’s main purpose was to talk about how things have changed now I’m on my own and I don’t think there’ll be anything much new to tell, it’s now just a case of getting on with it.

There’s one thing for sure though and something that’s been brought home to me in the last couple of weeks is that it’s going to be a long old journey. Where it’s exactly going I don’t know and where or if it will end I don’t know. It’s not a journey I wanted to take and it’s not one I relish but - using motorway terminology - the only turn off is one that I have never contemplated. Life must go on after all.



Thursday, 1 November 2018

A Single Life | Getting There

Well, it's been a while, not least because of half-term and being away in Patsy, so I'm going to try and have a bit of a catch up before getting around to anything else.

The weekend before half-time term long time friend Pauline came to stay at the flat. Pauline holds the dubious honour of being the first guest since we moved in some five years ago, although not by design. We bought a fold-up bed for just such occasions but sold it in the spring entirely unused. Fortunately Pauline was happy to make do with the sofa and to be fair it is very comfortable - particularly when you're nursing the occasional hangover...

And what a lovely weekend we had and it was so nice to have the company of someone in the flat again. We've known each other long enough to not have to make conversation for the sake of it but both just enjoying the presence of another. We did get out and about - a bit of sightseeing at Seaford Head - something Trev and I should have done more of, the cinema - something we used to do a lot, and out for a curry - something we never did!

The day after school finished for half-term we had a first aid refresher course - we do it every 2-3 years. I wasn’t relishing the prospect of it, particularly where we would have to practice CPR on a dummy. I was worried about my emotional reaction to it given that I’d had to do it for real in the summer. However I had a quiet word with the instructor beforehand and we decided that we’d do it in private as soon as the others had gone to lunch. In fact I needn’t have worried and was even able to give the odd pointer about how the 999 operator would talk someone through the procedure if need be. Overall it was a positive experience, however there was another all enveloping wave that night - short but pretty intense - and the following night too. A subconscious reaction maybe. Who knows?

The time away in Patsy however was overwhelmingly positive, it being my first completely solo trip. Ok, not entirely because for the first part there were some friends and family on site and I was meeting up with others on the second. However it proved two very important things - the first being that I CAN caravan on my own by choice - unlike when it was forced on me in the summer. The second is that I can enjoy it. Very much. It will never be the same of course but still be fulfilling. In a way this trip was as important as our very first one six and a half years ago. The only downside was the flat felt extremely empty the first night back, but I suppose that’s inevitable.

On both the weekend with Pauline and when away in the ‘van though there was that nagging feeling that I should have been sharing those times with Trev, how much better they could have been with him and how sad it was that he’d never get the chance to enjoy them.

Right, to the title ‘Getting There’. I’ve used the phrase a number of times myself in person an online - when someone asks how I’m doing, I say “getting there”. Then one day a friend asked “Where is ‘there’?” Good point. Where is ‘there’?

If ‘there’ surviving? Going to work, managing the flat and domestic chores? Yes, I’m certainly doing that.

If ‘there’ is feeling mostly ok, getting on with life, then yes, I’m ‘there’. Mostly. I can find pleasure in doing things - like caravanning, reading, music etc. But I am still alone and there are times when that inevitably hits real hard.

Is ‘there’ being able to move on, look to the future and a new relationship - a new ‘Trev’? I’m only 47 after all but right now sharing my life with anyone else is not something I could begin to consider. There’s only one person I’d share my life with right now and he’s gone.

I have a great circle of friends and work colleagues - and great family in my cousin and his - and that’s enough for the foreseeable future. I’m sure as time moves on my feelings will change but right now I can cope with being single - I can function as a single person and embrace certain aspects of it too. So in many respects I am ‘there’.

It’s been a funny old day. Felt fine for most of it but after dropping some kids off this afternoon I had a spare hour and felt the need to park up somewhere quiet and put on some sad songs with tears the inevitable consequence. The subconscious telling me I need to let it out again, to relieve the pressure, because that’s how I see it. Opening the safety valve. Again who knows?

So, quite a short one this time. Thanks as always if you’ve got this far.



3 Months

03Three months. "We are family. I've got all my sisters with me" sang Sister Sledge in their disco classic and is the perfect accompaniment to this lovely photo. Here's Trev with sisters Rosemary, Margaret Lawler, Mary Webdale and Mum Hilda aka HRH. Early nineties I think.