It’s hard to believe that we’ve been parked up on a driveway for a month now in a motorhome going nowhere but we have! The time has passed so quick it’s really hard to get our heads around it. Then again it’s hard to get your head around anything at the moment isn’t it? Still in the midst of the Coronavirus lockdown nothing is normal. Strange is now normal. This very weekend we should be socialising with other Laika motorhome owners, sipping on Chianti in the Tuscan sun and touring the spectacular cities of Siena and Florence. Just the thought puts a smile on our faces, but actually being there soaking up the warm Italian sunshine seems like a distant dream.
When we pulled up on my parent’s driveway on ‘the sunshine coast’ in Eastbourne 4 weeks ago we had no idea how long we would be here and we still don’t. We had no idea how we would feel after a week, let alone a month. Would we be bored, get cabin fever, go stir crazy? Would we regret our decision to sell our house and wish we could go back? One thing is for sure – Eastbourne has lived up to its sunny catchphrase and for the first 3 weeks the weather was spectacular. It wasn’t long before we got into a little daily routine of getting up and sitting around for a couple of hours having a lazy breakfast (what’s the rush?), going for a long walk, coming back for lunch and then lounging around in the sun for the afternoon. In the evenings we’ve been watching TV which we hardly ever did while travelling, browsing the internet or playing games. While packing up our house we came across an ancient box of Monopoly and a game of Backgammon so those have had a revival which has been fun and really passes the time. Every Thursday we go outside with the rest of the street to clap for our carers which seems to get louder and longer every week.
We’re so lucky that we’re here right at the foot of the South Downs with scenic walks and beautiful landscapes nearby. Getting out walking every day has saved our sanity, prevented any sense of being cooped up and kept us moving when it would be very easy not to. The great outdoors is also a great healer and while we walk we talk. Outside in the fresh air the mind clears and niggling thoughts make way for reminiscing about good times, travel memories and futures hopes and dreams. We do talk constantly, mulling over our thoughts and trying to make sense of the future which none of us can really plan at the moment. Occasionally one of us might start feeling a big down or a bit lost but we talk it through, buoy each other up and before we know it we’re back on track. Mostly we just take it day by day and until we get our freedoms back and have some control over our choices we feel that is probably the best way.
While travelling previously, although we cooked meals and used our oven nearly every day I rarely indulged in my love of baking. This was partly due to the motorhome oven being gas (which I am not used to) and being too busy with other things to make the time. Now that we’re static but in the motorhome it’s given me the opportunity to really get to know the oven and that’s been a real bonus for me. I have discovered that I can bake cakes and breads successfully without burning everything to a cinder, so it’s given me the confidence to do more and more. It’s just one little silver lining inside this immense cloud we’re all under and those are the little things we have to focus on and be thankful for right now. There is one downside though – the jeans are getting tighter!
On a similar note, one thing we hadn’t expected is a roast dinner every Sunday courtesy of my mum! I’ve mentioned before that while travelling I would always phone up on a Sunday to see what was on the menu. Whatever tasty food we had while away we still had a yearning for the Sunday roast and now we’ve getting one every week! In return I provide the pudding so it’s a fair swap and a little routine that we all enjoy. It also provides a bit of structure to the week which is really important at the moment. It’s one of the only ways we can remember which day it is and gives us something to anticipate and look forward to too.
It’s interesting how we use the motorhome differently now too. When travelling we tend to move on a lot and although it always felt like home we never really made it ‘homely’. This was partly because it belonged to Laika so we didn’t want to put up anything that would leave a mark and partly because we moved so much we would be constantly putting things away. Being in one place for so long means we have settled into a different way of using our home on wheels. Small things like having a plant pot, candles and a pen pot on the table. Our laptops are now permanently out and plug points in constant use. Utensil pots stay out in the kitchen and we’ve got our table in a different position to usual.
One thing we can definitely say is that we don’t miss all our ‘stuff’. It was the same while we travelled. All the clutter and material things we fill our homes with are all very nice but when it really comes down to it the ‘home comforts’ we need are really quite minimal. We’re comfortable, warm and well fed. We have the bare minimum really but it’s enough … and we have each other.
A real bonus for us being here in Eastbourne is being able to spend time with my parents. I think we’ve all taken comfort from being close by, having the additional social interaction and knowing we are here to help out with anything if needed. If we had stayed home in Kent we wouldn’t have felt able to visit and might not have seen them for months. On the other hand, with a son who lives in Bath and a daughter in London we don’t see them as much as we’d like at the best of times and now we’re starting to wonder when we’ll see them again. And when we do see them again it will be very strange not to greet them with a big hug. It goes against all instincts to just stand back and smile but if that’s what we have to do so be it. I just hope we can see them before too long.
Our dreams of travel are never far from the surface of our thoughts regardless of this current situation and probably always will be. We’re hopeful that motorhome travel will be able to resume fairly soon and will be the best way to travel while social distancing. Travelling in your own little house on wheels is the ideal way to go out and about without having to take a risk staying in hotels or using shared transport. It’s like a safe little cocoon to retreat back into wherever you are so chances are there’ll be a surge in popularity for this way of travel in the near future. What would be great is if the UK would become more accommodating as a result and provide possibilities and facilities outside of campsites which would also attract those used to the numerous options in countries such as France, Spain and Italy. We can but hope.
So, to sum it all up we’re doing well and have no regrets. It’s easy to look back at decisions, pull them to pieces and decide you’ve made a mistake but we’re happy with what we’ve done. We’re managing to keep the cabin fever at bay, keep positive and stay well. One day the world will be our oyster again and when that day comes we’ll be ready to go out and collect the pearls!