This post has absolutely nothing to do with travel or campervans or Hymers other than when we’re in Gertie and the weather’s bad John writes poetry. And as it was Mother’s Day yesterday I thought I’d share this one with you that was inspired by his mum.   It might strike a chord if you had or have a mother or grandmother who hoarded ‘treasures’. Hope you enjoy it.

Biscuit tin

Such things she kept, to hold her memories in.
A pretty box, a tin, a January journal
eternally returning to a long past year,
here in a pile atop her empty bed,
Here to be discarded or, at last, be read.

Rimed with a film of dust and breath
an ancient kitten gazes
from a festive tin.
Hazed and rusted, captured
unchanging in enamel glaze.

Under the reluctant lid the sleeping scents
of Bourbon Cremes and Wafer Pinks await
the long missed kiss of air. Draw in, exhale,
pale memories of sweetness and
long eaten Christmas treats.

And in their place are pictures,
packed and bound in perished bands.
Box Brownie ancestors, their Instamatic young.
Snap, a child; snap, a wife; snap, a life is captured.
Caught in silver salts.

A wartime bride who has my eyes,
a dark haired man in black and white.
They look out from a formal frame,
ready to claim the shining dues of youth.
They walk into a future now gone past.

A child, another child, until we stand five in a row.
The shutter snaps off shards of time,
suspends us in emulsion on thin card.
We grow and as we age
each frame grows younger.

The groom is gone, the bride in black
is girded by her young.
Her widow’s back curves in a question mark.
Where has the future gone?
She’s kept it in a biscuit tin.

I touch my breast to feel a final snap.
The bride, black bounded now,
surrounded by indulgence of all sin.
I place this one last memory on the top
and close the biscuit tin.

Readying the garden for travel

My gardenNo, not a garden on wheels. It’s not going anywhere, but we are, eventually, and when we go off on our travels in Gertie the garden is going to be left to its own devices for months on end.  So I’ve got started now, fine tuning it so that we don’t come back to a tangled mess.  Of course I could wait until next winter but doing it now makes our longed-for escape seem nearer somehow.

During my working life as a garden designer I was often asked by clients to give them a garden needing no maintenance. There’s no such thing.  I blame Charlie Dimmock.  What there are though are plants that are born survivors.  Plants that can see off the most determined weeds. Plants that can do all the hard work for us while we’re gallivanting off to the Peloponnese or the Anti Atlas or the Alentejo region of Portugal (you may have guessed by now that I’m feeling a bit restless.)  Throw in a few easy going shrubs and it will be just as beautiful when we come home as when we left it.  Well, that’s the theory anyway…

I thought fellow travellers who are also garden owners might be interested in some of the plants I’m using  to try to control what happens while we’re away, so here they are. Hover the cursor over the picture to get the name. Contact me if you want any more information on them.  Right, I’m off to the garden…



Ikea on a Saturday…argggh!

Gertie's new laptop standI love Gertie so much that today I sacrifice my Saturday morning and go to Ikea at Lakeside. This is not something you will usually hear me say.  Normally I would, to use John’s quite disgusting expression, rather eat my own earwax (forgive me, he’s from Birmingham), but instead at 8.30 this morning I am eating frukost in the Restaurang, although not the meatballs, you have to draw the line somewhere.

We’ve taken Gertie’s huge table out.  It’s given us a lot more room but nowhere to put cups, glasses, laptop etc. Then someone on the excellent Hymer Owners Group Facebook page said we should check out a laptop stand, which looks good on the Ikea website.  It costs £15 and they will deliver for £7.00. Ha! Way too easy.

What we do instead is go to the store.  We spend £124.05.  We buy: the laptop stand, an artificial sage plant, a pot for the artificial sage plant, two glass cafe latte cup thingys, some stuff you put under rugs to stop them slipping, a bedside cupboard, two packs of napkins, three spotlight ceiling sets, seven bulbs for the ceiling sets, a doormat, a wooden chopping block and a metal sieve.  The only things we actually need are the laptop stand and the napkins.

You know that bit in Father Ted when all the priests get lost in the lingerie section? That’s me in Fjällsta Florvåg.  After seeing the same room setup for the fourth time I realise that I’m lost and can’t find John.  Ring him. No reception in the blodig place.  It’s beginning to fill up with people who are walking like zombies.  It’s a strange phenomenon I’ve noticed before. A slow, ambling, aimless gait.  I’m in the kitchen bit now and feel like whacking my way through them with a stekpanna.  And then I find him.  I’m not going again for at least the next ten years, Gertie or no Gertie.


Riding along on the crest of a wave

DGertie the Hymer waveso you remember, for those of you who are old enough, the excitement of spotting a car with GB plates on the way to holidays in some Spanish Costa or other? As children, we played ‘spot the car’, with the winner getting a point. That’s all we got, a point, but the competition was enough to make sure we stayed glued to the windows, faces screwed up in concentration, at least from the ferry to Arras (there were lots of points given out from the ferry to Arras.)

Well, I’m happy to tell you that waving is big in the motorhome world. Being as tribal as any other group of human beings, the warmest, most excited wave is reserved for other Hymers, naturally, but we do wave at other makes. Obviously never, ever at cars towing caravans though. That would just be a step too far…
Of course, the problem with waving at large white vehicles is that sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a motorhome and any other large white vehicle, like a delivery van. Some wave back, some look straight ahead and some stare blankly at you wondering if you’re a nutter chasing them because they’ve forgotten your Oxo cubes.

I like it. It’s a warm sort of feeling when you’re lost and in the middle of nowhere to get a friendly wave. Sometimes, if you look like you’re in trouble, it’s not unusual for another campervan to stop and help you out. We’re really nice that way.