Back in the Shire.
In mid-January, we arrived back in the UK. We checked up on Linea in her winter berth at Base Nautica Flavia Gioia in Gaeta with our neighbours there and were assured all was well with her.
After a quick visit to Keira in Oxford and Paddy, Sarah, Sam and Louis in London it was immediately time to sort out a house that a vacating tenant had left in disarray (to say the least!) We emptied, cleaned, re-painted, re-carpeted and cleaned some more. We were very pleased with the results; especially the kitchen units which we (well Jake!) stripped of vinyl and painted. They look great.
Ian delayed his departure back to Gaeta whilst I landed the plumb job of dog and house sitting for Claire and Nick in the Shire. I was so thrilled to be home and enjoyed some great walks and catching up with people. Although there was an incredible amount of rain in February; and snow; and wind! But I LOVED it!
Ian set off back to Gaeta and cracked on with boat jobs. I completed a couple of proof reading jobs and time flew by. Most days I drove my friend Paula to Leeds for her treatment and relished the time we had together in the car to catch up and chat.
On the 3rd March Ian popped back for a quick visit prior to us both returning to Italy to go to the Six Nations Rugby in Rome, and then further developments on the Covid 19 front really began to kick in. We decided not to go back to Rome for the rugby, which was postponed soon after in any case. We phoned our winter liveaboard friend in the marina and asked them the remove the cheese, yogurt and random vegetables from our fridge!
Our friends for whom we were house sitting decided to come home early. Over the following two weeks the situation began to worsen and it became clear to us that we needed a longer term solution for our accommodation. Whilst Nick and Claire, were incredibly kind in letting us stay on with them it wasn’t feasible for too much longer. We started to make enquiries about renting an unoccupied holiday home. No one seemed interested. We put out feelers on facebook and in the post office window and finally, a landlady in Kettlewell agreed to have us to stay.
Whilst all this was on going we were concerned about Erin and Josh in India. We knew that they had just arrived in Delhi because they were staying briefly with the son of an old family friend. Thank you, Cam. They then planned to take a train to Jaisalmer and other areas of Rajasthan. On the Monday 16th March they caught the night train to Jaisalmer, half way there we sent them a message to suggest they come straight back!
They stayed long enough to complete their overnight camp in the desert and then they returned to Delhi. The train was deserted. Lock down was beginning in India. In the meantime they tried to book flights. All too quickly, they were booked by someone else prior to them getting to click the ‘book’ button themselves. It was all quite stressful. With some luck they did book a flight with Emirates via Bahrain and were on the last flight to leave India pre-lock down.
So, we now had a place to live for the foreseeable, our youngest on her way home, and our eldest saying she would like to come up north for lockdown, if it happened.
Ian drove down south. He picked Erin and Josh up from Josh’s parents and whisked over to Oxford to pick up Keira. They arrived back on the 23rd March about 5 mins before Boris Johnson’s lock down broadcast on TV!
It was a massive family reunion. We had not seen Erin and Josh for 18 months as they had been travelling and working in Australia, Sri Lanka and India. We had a wonderful time. This is all recorded for posterity on Erin and Josh’s You tube channel The Travel Tapes.
Soon Ian had secured a job with Tescos working in the on line orders team. Erin and Josh soon followed working as pickers. Keira was beavering away at home in the cottage in Kettlewell using the ironing board as a makeshift table!
Once Paula’s treatment was completed in April I too would begin to look for work. I found a job in housekeeping at a local care home. So we were all gainfully employed but found Kettlewell a little far away and so we were lucky enough to find a lovely cottage down at Linton Falls which meant that I could walk to work, and we were more back in our own welcoming community.
On our first day there I found a note stuck to the windscreen of the car demanding that we go home, as tourists and visitors were not welcome!
Needless to say we were a little shocked.
Ian found out who had written the cowardly note and gently explained our provenance and our situation but things were never overly warm and friendly between us and our new neighbours after that.
Time flew by. The weather was amazingly good. We had virtually no rain at all. We missed seeing our friends but we did manage a Thursday night quiz with the Wharfedale gang and Saturday night quiz with friends and family spread around the world.
There was talk of allowing some travel. Josh went down south to see his parents. We needed to get back to the boat as the prices were set to hike up to level ridiculous in July. So we booked a flight for the 21st June. (I was sorry to be leaving the nursing home but had been suffering from some dreadful eye and facial allergy and it was being exacerbated by the warm working conditions so it was time to say goodbye.)
It all went ahead. We moved out of Linton Falls. Keira packed up the little car we had bought and drove down to Oxford, re-packed and then set off to France to be with Sam, her boyfriend, who had been living there since the end of his season in Val d’Isere.
Our time together was coming to an end. It had been such a good time; good weather; good food, good walks, games, virtual quizzes, jigsaws, cooking, sour dough, V E Day street party, neighbours, old friends.