Friday, May 28, 2010

End of an Era

This morning we waved goodbye to Win. Here's her picture. Over the past three years we've had so many adventures in her and I started to write a book about them. The beginning was about how I won the money on Deal Or No Deal, after Colin's multiple heart attacks so I've cut that and gone on to the next bit. You can see it here.

The whole winter lay ahead of us, plenty of time to plan our dream journey and search catalogues and websites for motor-homes which had everything we wanted in them. Now the money was in our bank account it was getting a bit scary.
Our only previous experience of camping had been when the kids were little. We’d borrowed a tent from neighbours and set off to Cornwall.

‘There’s always a Know-All around to give advice,’ the tent-owner had assured us, ‘so, if you’re stuck, don’t panic.’
We got stuck. Practising tent erecting on a flat lawn in the shelter of our back garden was slightly different to coaxing canvas into a recognisable structure in the middle of a sloping field in a Force 8 gale - until the Know-All turned up all togged out in green cagoule and matching wellies and a beard, which wasn’t green.
‘Easy,’ he announced as he kicked at a tent-peg. ‘My wife and I camped for years.’
‘Is she with you now?’ I remember asking, as I searched the field for a woman in matching gear.
‘Oh, no. We got divorced.’
It sounded like an omen to me.
Things got worse once the tent was up and we began organising dinner. We weren’t about to experiment with the camping stove because I’d sensibly brought salad, cold potatoes and a cooked chicken with us. Doing my Pollyanna stuff I announced brightly that dinner was imminent. A red gingham cloth had been placed over the dandelions and thistles. It looked really pretty with the white plates on it and the food laid out enticingly. (This was around the time I’d been reading Superwoman by Shirley Conran. The Waltons, a happy family who always seemed to be sitting around a large table covered in gingham, eating loads of interesting food, had also affected me.)
A solitary crow swaggered by. It reminded me of a tramp in top hat and tails. I smiled at it and, wishing I was the owner of a dinner gong, turned to shout the family.
One second with my back to the feast. Maybe less. When I turned it was to see the ragged tramp hobbling along its grassy runway, trying to achieve take-off with our chicken in its beak. Like a Hercules transporter, one of those huge impossible flying machines, it finally left the ground and sailed into the sky. Twice the chicken attempted to escape and parachute down to the red gingham landing pad but the zealous crow pounced and retrieved it.
We ate salad and potatoes, filled up on bread and went to bed to discover that our son had a snoring problem. A full bladder woke me in the middle of the night. The toilets were miles away and Colin was called upon to do his dutiful husband bit and wait by the open tent flap, waving a lantern, so that I could find my way back to the right tent in the dark.
The next morning we packed up and set off in search of a caravan. It had to be an improvement. It was school holidays and the only cheap accommodation available was two delapidated caravans in a field. ‘The bedrooms,’ the farmer’s wife proclaimed before leading us, as she probably led lambs to the slaughter, into a dilapidated outbuilding housing a sink, an ancient cooker and a sagging sofa. ‘Living room cum kitchen. Three pounds, ten shillings for the week. All in.’
I wondered if that included the spiders dangling from the dusty beams, and the snails who were dawdling along a gulley which ran from the sink to the door and which was the only way for the water to escape once the plug was pulled.
Surely things had changed since then, I told myself. But even if they hadn’t we were committed. Colin had announced our intentions on television in front of millions of witnesses.
We had to do it.
And here endeth the first taster. More may follow depending on whether I can paste text into my blog. Thank you to Anita Loughrey for pasting this in for me and trying to explain, over the telephone, how she did it.


  1. Glynis Scrivens29 May, 2010 23:33

    Keep writing! This'll be good entertainment.
    I'm not sure our marriage would survive too many cmaping trips. Maybe that's why we've been on just one. I had an allergic reaction to the lining of my sleeping bag, so lay awake covered in lumps till the wee hours. The good thing is it meant I was awake to watch a small wallaby steal our bar of chocolate from a rucksack

  2. So, it's goodbye Win and welcome back to civilisation Lynne.

    I was a bit concerned as to what the 'dutiful husband bit' was when you had a full bladder, but was relieved (no pun intended) that it merely entailed holding the tent flap and a torch. There are some things people have to do for themselves!

    What better way to capture your memories of Win than in a book. Good luck with it!