Fortunately in England, we were able to finish off the holidays with a bank holiday and so we were able to enjoy one last long weekend.
I say ‘enjoy’.
I finally exorcised the demon that had taunted me for the last two years. For far too long I had allowed myself to be oppressed by the Mount Everest sized pile of junk in the garage. On Saturday I decided enough was enough. It was time to Man up and conquer the beast. I grabbed my rope, emergency packs, GPS and oxygen and opened up the garage doors. There it was, the storage depot of doom, as my youngest boy would say. I hacked away for hours, fighting many over fed jungle sized spiders along the way (manfully, I might add). Every now and again Jo would come out and fold her arms meaningfully at me, she would ask if I’d done this yet or done that yet? I wasn’t really listening as I was too busy grappling with a mouldy Futon at the time, so I didn’t catch exactly what bit of valuable advice I was being given.
Just as the rain clouds covered over what might otherwise have been a beautifully dramatic sunset, I stood with my hands on my hips and proudly nodded my head. I was standing in an acre of space, the likes of which we had not seen since moving here two years earlier. I’d taken three car loads of stuff to the dump and one car load to the charity shop. Out of nowhere, we had a garage floor. Suddenly we were able to open the ‘garage fridge’ door without having to first move a box out of the way. I opened it up excitedly and found the leftover plate of turkey that we had lost after Christmas.
|The garage has a floor|
Tears welled up in my eyes at the knowledge that we had bagged up half of the crap that had been in the garage before leaving our last house, paid for a team of removal men to carry it here, only for me to curse about it for two years and then finally throw it away. I was already a little emotional after biting the bullet and throwing my old ‘single days’ video collection away (no not that one, that’s still safe in the loft – the other video collection). I’d almost sobbed after I asked the man at the tip, “I’ve a box full of videos here, shall I just dump them, or leave them out on the side?” His faced lit up with excitement at the sounds of a freebie haul of videos, so he asked “What videos are they?” “It’s a full collection of Start Trek Videos actually” I replied and his face fell dejectedly as he pointed to the landfill skip. At that, they were gone, after all these years. Jo came out to offer me some emotional support, praise and gratitude, which she did by pointing at the spaghetti junction ‘decorating shelves’, and asking if I was going to do them as well.
The afternoon (I discovered that the rain clouds weren’t hiding a sunset after all, and in fact it was only lunchtime) was spent going for a family walk by the river Thames in Abingdon. The boys and Jo enjoyed getting muddy and wet, which was nice for them, I thought. A bit of a play and an ice cream and everyone was smiling.
Sunday was spent in the garden, grass cutting and sorting. I also trimmed Jo’s bush for her, which cheered her up no end as it had got in quite a mess. I told her that maybe next time she should get a man in to do it, because I hadn’t really enjoyed the experience. Jo agreed almost too enthusiastically for my liking.
On Monday I dragged out the recently rediscovered bike rack from its new position in the garage and put it on the car. The bikes were loaded, as were the family, and we drove for an hour to find Cotswold Water Park. The specific area we were looking for had a beach and a play area, as well as plenty of good healthy cycle routes. The sun was out and it was perfect. We arrived and immediately Jo and I shared a smirk, we had hit the jackpot. The boys were going to absolutely love this place. I had almost finished unloading all the bikes when I heard a massive cry of pain. Jo had sprained her ankle on a rabbit hole near the car.
I pointed out that I’d gone to quite a lot of effort getting her cycle off the rack, but I think she had lost some of her sense of humour when she had fallen over, because she didn’t laugh. In fact Jo was in a lot of pain and so all I could do was get the picnic rug out for her to sit on and give her a cuddle. The guys in the next car had a spare ice pack, which we borrowed gratefully. Eventually Jo managed to get into the car seat and we had some thinking to do. On one hand the boys have to accept that accidents happen and can’t be helped, but then… their little puppy dog eyes couldn’t quite understand the reasoning behind re packing the car. A compromise was found; I took the boys to the beach for ten minutes and let them have a dip in the lake, while Jo sat in the car feeling sorry for herself. A quick dip in the water, dig on the sand and an ice cream was enough to make the two hour round trip acceptable to people so young.
Actually I was very proud of my boys. I know that having a bit of empathy for their mother’s pain is something that you always hope your children will have in cases like this, but seeing it in action was amazing. They really understood and accepted why they had to walk away from what looked like being the best last day of their school holidays ever, and get back in the car. They both put their mum first. Sounds so easy, so little to expect, but it still made me feel really proud of them. Both of them asked how she was when we got back and made no fuss at all as they waited for me to reload the bikes. Well, not much fuss anyway.
So that’s it, the last weekend of the holidays is over. Jo is sore and a bit grumpy but generally fine and relatively mobile, even if she hasn’t quite found that sense of humour she lost yet; she gave me quite a fierce look when I pointed out that doctors always say that you should raise your ankles quite high in the air to ease the swelling, and that I had an idea of how I could help her with this. I was only trying to help!
The boys are happy that they have had a good break and are ready, I think, to return to school. Me? Thanks for asking; I’m good. I have a lovely family and a garage you can walk around in; what more could I ask for?