BACK TO LIVING IN BRICKS AND MORTAR

Village scene

It’s been well over a year since we returned to the UK from our travels around Europe in the Elf, our motorhome.

We spent 13 months on the road from March 2018 to April 2019. It felt like a lot longer as we went to a lot of places and saw a lot of things. We drove around 19,000 miles and visited 13 countries. What an amazing trip!

We would have spent longer travelling on the third leg of our travels in 2019, but our hand was forced by an unfolding tragedy at home. Paul who was Tim’s best friend since they were tiny, had relapsed and his Leaukaemia was taking hold again. We knew this was a bad turn of events, because while he had been strong enough to survive the first round of chemo treatment and overcome the cancer, there was a good chance he would not be strong enough to withstand the second round. So we cut our travels short and headed home to be with him.

Paul did not survive. However, we saw him and spent time with him before the end, as well as being around to support his wife Karen and the family.

Since then, we’ve moved to a different part of the country. This was partly to give our elderly Labrador a stable base to see out his days, but also to see how it worked out and consider the possibility of relocating permanently. We scoured large areas of the country looking for a place to rent, and to cut a long story short, we found a house in the Cotswolds. We’ve been here since July 2019 and absolutely love it.

Charlie on a long avenue
Charlie on one of the many great walks around

The house is compact, but after the confines of our motorhome, it feels spacious to us! It’s set in a beautiful village with a small garden that has a stream running through it. We have rolling countryside and the vibrant city of Cheltenham on our doorstep, not to mention lots of great Cotswold towns and villages around.

Charlie in a field
Enjoying freedom and space

I’ve even got a job ! Yes, I’m going back into the world of gainful employment and I’ll hopefully achieve my aim of a more sustainable work/life balance – an important part of which is a short commute. Having spent about 20 years commuting to get to work in London and spending between 2-3 hours a day on trains and tubes, I realised that there had to be a better way – call me slow if you like. I love the countryside and always have since I can remember. So that meant moving somewhere where I could escape the gravitational pull of the capital.

Lambs in a field
Spring time

I have long held a belief that I would not be able to achieve this aim, especially in the last few years and the capital has become such a global digital hub of industry. I couldn’t imagine working anywhere that was not at the forefront of this. I love the vibrancy and energy in London. So in the back of my mind – in semi-formed and subconscious beliefs – I had an image that my career and motivation would falter if I went elsewhere. Such are the unquestioned but inherent and unarticulated beliefs that we all hold in some way or other, and which I really should have challenged in myself long ago!

Bodger lying in the kitchen
Bodger likes to ‘help’ around the kitchen, as close as possible to the action

But that was what this was all about. It just goes to show that you won’t find out till you try. Since coming here, I have been able to follow my passions and feel some real purpose in my life. I have:

  • Volunteered for eight months at a wildlife rescue centre, something I have been dreaming about for years.
  • Completed a 100 mile running challenge and raised money for a stray dogs charity in Spain.
  • Volunteered as a Toad patroller to help Toads migrate in our village. Our team moved 650 to safety over the course of about 2 months and I’ve been able to connect with lovely people who are also wildlife nuts like me.
  • Given our beloved Bodger and Charlie a stable home, with a routine, and our undivided company pretty much around the clock. As you can imagine, they think lockdown is wonderful!

I’ve felt closer to nature and the beauty of the surrounding countryside really does feed my soul.

Stream with flowers and a stone frog
Our garden

I’ve been able to do all this stuff partly because I have had a break from work and have had the time and energy to spare. But it is also down to the location, as Gloucestershire has offered opportunities that weren’t there in Hertfordshire.

Inevitably some of the social isolation I felt while travelling, has followed us here because we have moved away from family and friends. But it’s different to travelling because we have met some lovely neighbours and we can get in the car and go and visit friends and family (after lockdown at least). Hopefully friendships will develop over time.

Duck and ducklings on a lawn
Ducklings regularly visit our garden from the stream

So that’s where we are.

What about the Elf I hear you say ? Well, if anyone fancies a fabulous adventure, there is a certain, reasonably priced, very comfortable and reliable Autotrail Comanche for sale to a loving home ! Reply below if interested!

Bogder on the sofa
Bodger has prime spot on the sofa !