Journeying at last
On the 28th March we were at last allowed to stop "staying local" and travel within Wales. Two of our children and their families live in Wales and two in England. We had managed to see our North Wales daughter and her family through the lockdown from time to time, for childcare or, as things relaxed a bit further, outside for a walk or a play in the park. The South Wales family we had not seen for months although we facetime and talk pretty often. We would have to stay outside if we made the four hour journey down the border. So Emma and I plotted together. We could bring the campervan which would be our place to sleep and retire to. She would buy a firepit so we could spend the evenings together outside on their terrace. The weather forecast was consulted and two or three days of unseasonal warmth were predicted with winds from the south bringing some sunshine and higher temperatures so that was when we would travel. Plan made.
On Tuesday morning as we drove south past Wrexham we were as far from home as we had been for months. It was warm and sunny and the sky was an intense Mediterranean blue. The van was packed and ready for overnight stays. It felt as though we were on an adventure. Down, down the border we went, past Oswestry and Welshpool, Newtown, Llandrindod Wells, Builth Wells. It is a great drive at any time with hills and woods and fields and the glorious climb into the Brecon beacons but Tuesday was magic. The fields were full of sheep and lambs, sprawled dreaming in the sun. Daffodils sparkled by the roadside. Miles whizzed away under the van's wheels. I felt intensely happy with that deep happiness which comes sometimes when you are aware of it singing in the blood, right now, not in retrospect, not as a form of nostalgia but right there in that moment as the van surged up the hills and the beacons shone in the clear light.
And it was indeed lovely to see them. Emma and I kept smiling at each other over the heads of the children. Eleven year old grandson fetched and carried for the table outside with alacrity, proudly mixed the perfect gin and tonic and read to us with enthusiasm and expression from his book about people who had survived in amazing circumstances: in snow and mountains or deserts and deep seas. We had not seen three year old granddaughter for more than six months but she quickly decided she was perfectly happy with us and kept turning up reaching out her hand for me to go with her. "Grandma, can I show you something amazing?" Twice it was our own campervan, often the stream that runs close to the house which is her special place to climb and play demonstrating a breathtaking (and for me a heart in mouth) confidence in her own strength and ability to balance. In the early evening we played Bird Bingo and then sat by the fire pit, talking and talking. How I have missed this.
Joseph pushes Izzy on the swing.
Izzy spends hours making a pig house for tiny fairy pigs.
By Friday the wind had turned and blew icily from the North. Time to go home. We packed up to come home again and as we drove I realised that somehow seeing this part of our family again had made me feel much more strongly myself. I cannot explain it any better than that. It is as if managing without so many of the people we love has reduced us somehow. We have managed the lockdown as well as we can and in many ways it has been fine with the proximity of younger daughter and her family making a huge difference to us. Now we have dates in the diary, as we are released into being able to travel into England, to see our sons and their families, in Manchester and in Devon, putting the jigsaw of ourselves back together.
And yesterday we sat in the sunshine outside with our friends, drinking prosecco and planning an autumn trip to Leiden together.
So it has been a very good week. How was yours? Has the easing of restrictions opened things up for you? I hope so!