Going Home

After 4 weeks of traveling I’m feeling rather homesick and missing my family. I think it’s time to head home for a while. Meeting my Dad’s sister and her family seeing how loving and close they all are has made me crave being back with my nearest and dearest. I’d planned a brief visit home for my daughter’s dance school’s annual show and a friend’s wedding but I feel the need to spend longer than a few days with them.

I am a little apprehensive though. I will be going home and my, 14yr old poodle, babybear won’t be there. He passed the first week into my journey. I feel sad at the thought but at the moment it’s only like a horrible story, it’s not yet real. Going back to the house and him not being there is going to be incredibly hard. But I need to do it to make it sink in. My daughters and son-in-laws buried him in the back garden but have waited for me to get home so we can choose the tree together to plant in his honour – I’m not sure I’m brave enough to do that! I know I couldn’t have buried him had I have been at home. My girls are so much stronger than me. It’s going to take all the strength I have to pull up my big girl pants and deal with it! 🌺

#FindingJosephine

Twitter Lost Josephine @Josephi95800076

Instagram Whoisjosphine9580

Facebook – Lost Josephine

Advertisements

Family

There were many thoughts and reasons for me choosing to take a solo trip around the UK this summer. Firstly, as I have expressed before, finding myself single and feeling redundant as a parent now that my kids have all grown up. I wasn’t sure who I was anymore so decided to try and find myself while exploring our beautiful country – but you already know that if you’ve been following me.

The second is to connect more with my family both physically and by seeing the places I’ve been told so much about in family stories growing up.

This trip has allowed me to visit my Dads sister, who I have only seen a few times, all of which have been funerals, and to meet her beautiful daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughter. It’s been wonderful finally meeting them and getting to know them. It’s been strange hearing their stories as they remember our grandparents very differently but we know them at different times. My Aunt and eldest cousin remember them when they were younger, before I was born and only from holidays when they visited. They knew Nan as a demonstrative woman and grandad rather cheeky. I knew much older grandparents. The Nan I knew was a forthright woman but had a quite mellow side, especially after my daughter was born 2 years before Nan passed. The Grandad I remember as a very portly, pipe smoking, more stern man. I remember having to sit in silence while the pools were being read out. This was before he got ill after then a hollow man eaten away by altzimers, he passed away when I was only just 13, and had spent his last few years in hospital, so my memories are through young eyes. I still smile on the very rare occasion I smell pipe tabacco, it takes me straight back to their living room.

I’m going back to see my Aunt this afternoon. At 84 she is two years older than my Nan when she passed. Although she doesn’t like being told so, she is the spitting image of my Nan, her mother. The way they walk and move, even the way they organise their ornaments and kitchen cupboards, all the same. For most mother daughter relationships this can be seen as quite normal but my Aunt wasn’t bought up by her mother, she was raised by her grandmother in Ireland. It shows how nature can be just as strong as nurture. I couldn’t stop looking at my Aunts hands, their hands are identical, but I won’t upset her by telling her. She’s taking me to her W.I. meeting, I’m quite looking forward to it as I’ve never been to one before – I’ll let you know how it goes.

I have been very fortunate throughout my life to have spent a lot of time with my maternal grandparents. Mums family are very close. I have heard many stories from them and my parents about their childhoods, family holidays of old, visits to distant relatives throughout the country and much, much more. In this journey I hope to visit a few of these places I feel I know so well already because of the wonderful verbal pictures they painted while telling these stories – most of the places are in Wales so will tell you about them when I reach Wales later in this journey.

There is one story from Tavistock I must share with you while I’m down this way. Its one that’s been the source of a lot of laughter in my family for many years. When she was younger my Nan was a bit of a panicker, being from Woolwich, London she was very suspicious of people. Grandad, from Wales, was more laid back and liked to explore and take risks (he was also a bit of a joker so I think the more Nan seemed to get excited the more he risks he took. It might be because she always clung on to him tightly or grabbed his hand, last of the old romantics). I don’t know much about the holiday other than they had been driving through the Dartmoor Moore’s and when they got closer to Tavistock quite late car broke down. At first Nan thought Grandad was playing one of his tricks but no they had broken down for real this time (apparently he used this trick when they were courting so they could have a bit of a cuddle). It was too dark to look at fixing the car and a local farmer kindly offered them the use of his barn to sleep in for the night – Nan, Grandad, my Mum and her elder sister (aged 4 & 6) the only part of the story I can ever get is Nan coming home and telling my Great Grandmother that she couldn’t believe someone would be that hospitable to strangers, she told her she was so scared and thought the farmer was going to murder them in their sleep (here comes the best bit) “I though we were going to wake up dead!” She declared. Apparently my Great Grandmother did question how they could “wake up dead” but Nan just replied “if we’d of been murdered we would have!” Still not realising the error in her statement.

I’m looking forward to sharing more of my wonderful and balmy families stories in later blogs. Be happy and kind to one another. I’ll speak with you all again soon 🌺

#FindingJosephine

Twitter Lost Josephine @Josephi95800076

Instagram Whoisjosphine9580

Facebook – Lost Josephine

Clovelly – to me to you

This is another “oh my” kinda place.

Not only are the old stone build cottages, set in the hillside along the stunning sea coast and harbour wall beautiful. It’s full of wonder and mystique. How do the locals cope living here?

This privately owned village is a place of tranquil beauty for both visitors and those who reside here. The small entry fee for visitors is used towards the up keep of the village and they are doing a cracking job despite many difficulties.

The cobbled street were made over 150 years ago with pebbles carried up from the beach and look wonderful but aren’t very comfortable under foot. I’m wearing walking boots and I’m still feeling the discomfort.

And As beautiful as these narrow, twisting cobbled streets look they do make it hard work getting supplies in. The streets are too narrow for vehicles. The villages often use sledges to transport goods up and down rather than carry heavy loads. The car park is at the top of the hillside, all vehicles stop there and it’s then a case of the long walk down.

At the top of the hill were 2 trades man holding a ladder on their shoulders, one at either end of the ladder – I must admit they did remind me very much of the chuckle brothers and I half expected them to try and walk in different directions. I was interested to see how this worked out but didn’t want to stand staring at them. I walked a little down the hill to the memorial garden where I had a good view and could still here them but looked like I was just sitting enjoying the sun (sunglasses are great for people watching). They stood at the top of the first cobbled walkway discussing how far down the walk was and that although the ladder wasn’t too heavy at the moment they might start to feel the weight on the way down. They moved the ladder this way and that before putting it back on their shoulders. One of the men said “it’s ok, let’s just go for it” the other a little more cautious said the ladder was digging into his shoulders and thought they needed padding. They then entered into a discussion about what kind of padding and where to get it. Should they use jumpers or try and source something else. Oh wait a minute, it’s a hot sunny day and they are not sure if they have jumpers in the van. More discussions about how far down is it and do they really need anything. One saying yes the other saying no. The one saying yes, at the back of the ladder, moaning about how much the ladder is digging in his shoulders.(to be fair the ladder did look heavy as the had 3 beautifully filled, large, hanging baskets hanging from the struts of the ladder) At this they then decided to try turning around and see if there was less pressure on his shoulders if he went down first. Apparently this just added to the pressure so they turned back round and the discussion went back to padding. This is when I had to get up and leave my subtle observation spot as I could no longer hide how much I was laughing at them. The ladder had been on their shoulders the entire conversation which had gone on longer than the time, I assumed, it would have taken them to just carry the ladder down the hill. I have no idea how or indeed if they got the darned thing down the hill as the attempt to stifle my laughter had added to the hilarity and I couldn’t control the sound of the raucous laughter leaving my lips or my entire body from giggling up and down. Anyone witnessing my outburst without first seeing the tradesmen would think I needed locking up – they are probably right.

A little way down the hill I saw a couple carrying their grocery shopping down the steep cobbled paths. After seeing how steep the hills were and how much of an effort this took I did feel a little guilty for laughing at the ladder guys. I do understand their need to discuss the best options but think they would have been better off putting the ladder down during their discussion.

Walking through the visitors centre (village entrance) at the top of the hill was like walking through a time machine. The steep climb down the uneven cobbles street felt like I’d gone back in time. Although the shopping of the couple was in modern, reusable supermarket shopping bags, the methods they used to carry it down the hill were ancient. The man had a plank of wood across his shoulders with the bags hanging on each end. The woman had bags in a, crudely made, wood and wire sledge with rope pully. Had I not have witnessed this I would probably be reading this thinking that the woman had an easy job with the sledge and her only issue would be stopping it running too fast down the hill. The uneven cobbles meant this was not the case. She was having to pull the sledge up and over many raised cobbles and slowing it when it hits smooth patches.

Walking between the well kept, elegant white painted buildings down to the harbour where boats were arriving with more supplies, this time being dragged up the hill on sledges, The hill walks with stunning sea views, The waterfall and overall beauty of the place, I can see why the residents put up with these struggles for the tranquility and beautiful scenery.

#FindingJosephine

Twitter Lost Josephine @Josephi95800076

Instagram Whoisjosphine9580

Facebook – Lost Josephine

All photos are mine

What have I learnt so far?

So three weeks in to my journey, up and down the country, to self discovery and what have I learnt so far?

1) I can’t read maps!

I went walking through the moors around Mary Tavy. I walked down the lane, through a woodland, crossed the river Tavy, along some more woodland, through a few fields all good so far as the arrows on posts pointed me in the right direction – I then came up to the next field but no direction marker, I could see this field had an exit in each corner, which should I take? So out came the trusty map. I found where I thought I was and walked towards the far end – trying to avoid stepping in the sheep dung but realising it was futile. At the next gate still no directional marker, out came the map again. I realised that when looking previously I’d forgotten I’d crossed the river so was looking at a field on the wrong side. On the map I found the only place marked for a crossing the river then followed my way through the Fields I had crossed. Perfect. I’ve found where I am. Peter Tavy Church should be across the next field. But it wasn’t! Either someone picked the church up and moved it about 2 miles away, to where I can see a church in the far distance, or I wasn’t in the field I thought was in! Feeling rather hot, with sheep …. dung up to my calf’s I decided it was best to retrace my steps back, while I could remember them, rather than continue forward.

2) I’m more of a pampered princess and less self sufficient than I thought.

– living in a large town on the outskirts of London I’m used to being able to go to the shops and find pretty much anything I want. We have good water pressure so the shower is powerful enough to wash the shampoo out quickly. I can always get phone and internet signal so my loved ones are only ever a click away or a short walk/drive away from a visit.

With these things being limited so far on this journey, I’ve realised how important these things are too me and how much I take them for granted. I’m lucky to have amazing friends and family. Warmth food in my stomach a roof over my head. I still have these things while I’m traveling yet I’m moaning they are not at the click of a finger as they were before I left.

Shock horror, if I want things I have to be organised and think when and where to get them. I might have to drive around for a while to get a phone or internet signal. If I forget something at the shop I can’t just ask my daughter to pick it up for me on her way out. And if I get upset I need to sort myself out and rely on someone to give me a hug to make me feel better.

I know I’m fortunate and I can go home to get all of these things easily (all be it a 5 hour drive away). Some people aren’t that lucky. I need to stop whining appreciate what I have more.

3) I can do more than I thought.

If I have people around to support me I allow my fears to have a voice. On my own I either let them speak and do nothing with my journey, or I shout them out and go for it. My fear of falling is slowly edging away, sometimes I can’t even hear the “be careful you’ll fall” voices in my head, especially when the scenery is so beautiful and I’m wanting to capture a photo – don’t worry Mum I’m still being careful just no longer fearful.

Had I have been at home a few weeks ago when my beautiful Louis passed away I probably would have fallen apart. But with no one to pick me up I had to deal with it- yes I was upset and cried, a lot, but I dealt with it.

4) I’m still completely useless with technology.

Dispute my daughter going through with me how to use my new laptop I still can’t get the darn thing to work! – so things never change, lol

5) This UK is a beautiful county

Although I’m not surprised by this finding. We are lucky to live in this glorious diverse land. Luscious green landscape, trees and plants in all shapes and sizes. Dramatic grey stone cliffs, golden sandy beaches, shingle coastlines all steeped in a rich history.

People tell me I’m brave taking this journey, I say I’m privileged 🌺

#FindingJosephine

Twitter Lost Josephine @Josephi95800076

Instagram Whoisjosphine9580

Facebook – Lost Josephine

Feeling vulnerable

This is the first time so far on my trip I’ve felt uneasy being a solo traveler. Hideous hormones are starting to do their thing and I’m feeling homesick, both of which put me on the back foot before heading out. But I’d had a wonderful time at the pub the night before so decided to go back last night. The pub itself is fascinating. Its an eclectic, collectors pub. Everyone in there was so friendly, both last night and the evening before. it wasn’t long before I was chatting along with everyone. They were fascinated by my journey and wanted to hear all about it.

One guy (a tall, long bearded, leather wearing, Harley Davidson bike rider) said a few times how brave he thought I was taking this trip on my own, adding that he wouldn’t have the courage to do it. This started the little voices in my head going, just tiny little nagging doubts telling me that if this guy thinks I’m brave how much of a big deal is it? As I usually do when self doubt kicks in, I headed for the ladies room to give myself a talking to. The usually “come on girl pull yourself together”. On the way out one of the men that was also in the pub last night was waiting for me in the narrow corridor. He wanted to tell me he was very interested in me and would like to see more of me. He added that he wasn’t committed to any one. In such a confined space I felt rather uncomfortable but managed to make a joking comment. Something along the lines of “Many say I should have been committed years ago” laughed and walked past him back into the bar. I ordered another drink (a raspberry and lime juice recommended by the landlady) And chatted to a retired lecturer, we had quite an interesting debate on the effects being bullied has on people.

When it was time to head home the guy from the corridor was waiting outside for me and insisted on walking me to my car, just the other side of the building. This was the first time I had considered my outfit. Being a close late spring evening I was wearing a light skirt and blouse combo with cork sole sandals. My skirt was ankle length and the blouse had sleeves so it was in no way revealing but doesn’t offer any practical defended. If things turned nasty a stamp on the foot with a cork shoe isn’t going to stop anyone. Why did I choose to wear this. From self defence and safety tutorials I know that attackers are less likely to attack woman who are wearing jean and hard to get to clothing but this hadn’t even occurred to me when getting ready. I did remember some of the advise and had my keys in my hand before I left the pub, a jab with those in delicate places will pause someone’s actions if needed.

He mentioned again as we approach my car that he was interested but fortunately didn’t push the point. But it made me think. What if the next person isn’t as respectful?

Feeling uneasy I quickly got in my car, locked the doors and headed back to the cottage. I wanted to be as far away from here as quickly as possible. Being from a town just outside London I very rarely see real darkness but there aren’t any street lights here for miles making the lanes pitch black. I had my lights turned to full beam. I went around a corner into my first experience of Dartmoor fog! Those of you who drive will know that you can’t use bright lights in fog, it just makes the fog white and appear more dense. With the pitch black of night and the thick fog my visibility was only about 50 yards ahead of me meaning I had to slow right and retreat slower than a snail. After feeling vulnerable to human factors, Mother nature decided at this time to remind me that she and the elements can be dangerous too!

My duvet that I’ve bought on this journey has never felt so good to get back too!

I’m not going to let this stop my adventure but I will take it as a lesson to give more thought about my surrounds and my actions.

#FindingJosephine

Twitter Lost Josephine @Josephi95800076

Instagram Whoisjosphine9580

Facebook – Lost Josephine

The most interesting pub you’ll ever see!

I’ve got to tell you about the pub I visited last night. It’s called The Highwayman, in Sourton, Dartmoor. Their advertising claims it’s the most interesting Inn you’ll ever visit and they aren’t kidding! – it’s not everyday the barman encourages you to take a tour around the many rooms of the Inn saying “the first of the rooms is down the stone corridor, take a left after you pass Tutankhamen and go through the door”!

Let me rewind to my drive up to the Inn. My first though as I approached the wonky old timber cottage with slate roof was that it looked like it’s jumped straight out of a story book. Later I learnt the cottage is called “The Boot” and does look like the old woman who had too many children should live there. Around the other side of this is the Inn itself. Dancing multicoloured lights reflect onto the front of the highly decorated front of the Inn.

On opening the front door I was in an entrance porch decked out like the inside of an old stage coach carriage with dark wood and red leather upholstery.

Through the next door the dark wood continued into a hallway with a staircase up to the guest bedrooms and doors either side of the hallway. I took the door to the left which lead me into a small, dimly lite bar with low ceiling and nooks and corridors leading from it. The dark wood was now paired with grey stone walls, both of which were adorned with too much for my eyes to take it in. Although it’s not unusual for a country public house to have horse brasses, bridals and Toby jugs on display, I’ve never seen so many in one place. This is also an eclectic mix of items that have been upcycled and remodelled into new products. The table I sat at was once an old apple press with the iron work still attached above the wooden lid, now the table top. Which meant that if there had of been someone sitting at this small round table with me we would have had to look at one another through the iron work. The table next to me is an old bellos.

Through to the room past Tutankhamen is a room decked out like the galley of an old ship. The heavy dark wood has been matched with bottle green furnishings for added dramatic effect. All good sailing ships have a wheel and this one doesn’t disappoint. Rather than having the wheel mounted on a makeshift helm however this ships wheel is fitted into the low ceiling, like a tradition ceiling rose. Of course, where else would you keep your wheel!

Into the next room and it’s predominantly stone. My favourite part was a lowered cave like seating area. More trinkets and treasures including a cave complete with glowing Minotaur and a singing mounted reindeer’s head. As you can see this is not your average every day, run of the mill Public House

In my excitement I nearly forgot to tell you about the ladies room. This had a completely different feel. The walls, floor and ceiling are high gloss black with silver flecks. Silver framed mirrors and beautiful pictures of ladies in Art Deco style dresses line the walls. Spotlights and fairy lights in the ceiling make this little room shine. Such a pretty contrast to the heavy wood and stone throughout the rest of the building.

If you find yourself in the area it is well worth a visit. Sally and Bruce will certainly make you welcome

#FindingJosephine

Twitter Lost Josephine @Josephi95800076

Instagram Whoisjosphine9580

Facebook – Lost Josephine

My first home from home on this Journey

Having not had internet signal for almost a week I’m a bit behind posting blogs I’ve written. Here’s one from last Friday. 25th May 2018

It’s the end of the first leg on my journey – 2 weeks in a beautiful Caravan in picturesque Perranporth, Cornwall.

My stay has been bittersweet. The beautiful places I’ve seen, the wonderful people I’ve met yet the sadness of being away from my loved ones and the heartache of losing Louis.

Let me tell you about this beautiful, cosy caravan I stayed in that offered me comfort in my heartache

– if you’re sitting comfortably I will begin.

Staying in caravans is familiar to me as all of my childhood holidays and many of the holidays with my own children have been in caravans. Yet this cute, larger than average caravan has wowed me. At 17 years old it’s far from modern but has been maintained beautifully and has recently had a makeover. If for any reason you missed the great view of the dunes and the sea outside the decor inside the van lets you know you’re at the seaside. The beach hut curtains with tiebacks and matching scatter cushions give the large living area a cutesy feel to the place along with the driftwood, shell and beach themed ornaments.

Being a typical girly I’ve packed way too much yet there were plenty of coat hangers for my clothes. Having 3 bedrooms meant I had 2 dressing rooms, every girls dream.

I don’t know about you but I really don’t like shower cubicles, I find them too small and hate hitting my elbows on the walls while washing my hair. I didn’t need to worry about that with this van. It was a much larger than average shower. Plus it had a large shelve inside the cubical so I didn’t get a cold bum knocking it agains the glass bending down to get the shampoo off the floor like most shower cubicles.

The van has been decked out with every home away from home comfort I could think of, and more. CDs, DVDs, toys, buckets and spades, books for all ages and across many genres – the owners clearly have great takes as they have many titles from one of my favourite authors, Jill Mansell.

I hadn’t realised until after I booked it that the van is situated on a Haven Holiday Park. Don’t get me wrong these parks are great for families but not what I wanted from my solo trip so was a little apprehensive however the van is ideally situated on the park. I was far enough away not to hear the activities but close enough to walk down if I needed the on site shop, laundrette and WiFi (as you can tell from my blogs and numerous Instagram posts I’ve used that a lot!)

Jackie and Kev, the owners of this van are a lovely retired couple who live in Perranporth itself and are on hand if needed. If you’re looking to visit Cornwall I really recommend staying here, with or without children. You can contact Jackie through Facebook – Jacqueline Jenking Hughes

#FindingJosephine

Twitter Lost Josephine @Josephi95800076

Instagram Whoisjosphine9580

Facebook – Lost Josephine

All photos are mine unless otherwise stated