“Before Prince left Wendy and Lisa with a heartbreaking hole in their nomadic dreams, Lisa pondered how her future in the road would be; ‘I’ll be the enigmatic lady, aloof with a book and a puppy. Everyone will wonder what my tale is… I’ll be cool like Mona Lisa…’ Since reality hit, she has mostly been thinking, ‘Shit, I’m a forty-something widow in a van, with a dog… It’s all going to be sad and lonely…’
Well we’ll see. Next Saturday will be the first night away – alone – for Wendy and Lisa AND Django. What could possibly go wrong?”
With the Ostara Equinox upon us, though clearly the Goddess has fallen out with the weather, what better time for me to dip my toe in the murky puddle of my new camper van life. After all, Spring is all about rebirth and new beginnings, right?
of our design company. I had forgotten all about them until the morning of my trip. Harry found them for me and so I spent a thoughtful half hour assembling the figures and building the scene. The only relevant bit though was the two Indians so I placed them in the canoe and they are now eternally paddling across the dashboard on the passengers side. Nigel’s side. Well, Django’s side now.
I tidied all my bits away and pulled out the bed to save me having to do it later. I slipped Django onto his walking lead and took him for a stroll. Naturally we headed down to paddock 9, where Nige and I stayed on our first and last trip here together. The main gate was padlocked – I think because it’s a field and needs to ‘heal’ if you like, before the peak season begins next week. I was a little concerned as the gateway to Nick’s (the only way I know of getting to his) is through that field… Then I remembered the walkway around the outside. It’s set up as a nature trail and leads you past the Pygmy Goats. Django froze as the goats stood on top of their little houses and peered down on him. I love them! With words of encouragement and much pulling of the lead, I managed to get him past them all. Yes, the gate was still there and accessible. The Hebridean Sheep were in the far field. As I walked passed the gateway and took in the field something strange happened. I could see every motorhome, camper van and tent that had been there on our trip together. Including ours. With each step Django and I took the scene filled up with the past. By the time I drew level with our pitch from the past I could see Nige, chatting to the young couple from Calne, who were lighting a barbecue. I was lying on the bed watching him proudly as he talked optimistically about life. The tears were falling. I hadn’t expected this.
5pm. That’s about right. I grabbed my bottle of Peaky Blinders Gin, some tonic, treats and poop bags for Django and set off for Nick’s. Back to the Pygmy Goats. Yeah, Django still didn’t like them… As I got to the gate I could see the Hebridean Sheep spread out in front of me. “Shit!” Nothing for it though, he’s on a lead and I’m a country girl. Over the stile, head down, one stoic foot in front of the other. Of course, stoicism is easier without a large puppy bunny-hopping excitedly through a water-logged, rare sheep inhabited field but we got there… At the sight of the fisherman’s cottage I cried again, as I recalled the stilted conversation Nige and I had had. The whole walk was punctuated with memories akin to this; gentle, simple conversation due to his illness that filled me then with sadness now destroyed me. I guided my beautiful hound through the flooded pathway, I found myself laughing at the ludicrous situation we were in. I smiled at Django’s unending bounce no matter what was ahead. The similarities between him and my beloved man were not lost on me. Amidst all this heartache, I met a young couple who fussed Django nonchalantly yet with affection and two young girls who fell upon him with lots of ‘Ooohs!’ and ‘Ahhhhs!’ No one noticed my distress and I genuinely feel that maybe I just don’t wear it… I feel it – hugely. At Nick’s Django escaped wth him to the garden. I found myself collapsing into Shelley’s arms. You see, that’s what a ‘safe place’ is all about.
I had the best evening. Nick cooks so beautifully, he really puts passion and heart into what he serves up. Nige always adored his food too so I felt a real connection as I savoured each mouthful. Shelley kept me topped up with, first, gin and then, later, coffee. Django and cousin Amy bonded with some rather complex mouthing… Their relationship is an ongoing adventure! At about 11 Nick was ready to walk me and Django back to the campsite. We went a different way – less water-logged. Somehow we ended up on the main road to the site. I did think he’d leave me at the gate but he didn’t. He walked me right back to the van. He watched as a lifted Django up and onto our bed. Then, with a heartfelt hug, he left me to my first night alone on the van. I could not love him more.
One of my concerns initially was Django’s insane biting. I thought he’d just rip everything off the roof, that he’d chew anything else and possibly eat me alive. But I underestimated just how much your puppy adores being with you. He snuggled up next me, as I watched Guardians of the Galaxy (thank you electric hook-up!) and he came with me the first couple of times I needed a wee. After that he just sat and waited for me! We didn’t wake up until 9, and the sun was shining.
As I packed the awning away (badly) and drank my coffee, I felt accomplished. I thought about other widows and widowers I knew and felt, not superior but knowledgeable. I wanted, right there and then, to say to them, ‘Do it.’ No drama, just be. Because, yes, it’s emotional. Yes, it’s hard but, man, it’s the ONLY way to move forward. And I know that if I don’t move forward I may as well turn the steering wheel into the path of on-coming traffic… And I haven’t done that yet.
Please join me on more journeys with my dog. Next stop: Brean. Probably.