Hello, welcome back and many apologies for my long absence. As some of you may know I have been on a bit of an adventure – a bit more of an adventure than I anticipated when I began – and many things have changed over the last months. I want to share this journey with you in all its delight, frustration and near despair and so over the next few months will be adding to my story until we are up to date.
To begin – for many reasons we have considered moving for a while. More than 30 years ago we rocked up to a very run-down terraced house near the cliffs at Saltburn by Sea. For those of you who have read the fourth Alex Hastings book, “Smoke and Adders”, this was a move forced on us by events not identical but very similar to those experienced by Alex. After spending five years in Somerset, not far from the Levels, it took a while to adjust to what was a move diagonally right across the country but Saltburn is a beautiful place, the people were just as friendly as they had been in Somerset and we settled in, doing up the house and slowly making it the home we had always wanted. Finally however time began to catch up with us.
Victorian terraces are tall and narrow and their staircases are long and steep. My exciting (and, according to my mother, reckless) youth began to tell as the injuries from several motorcycle accidents made climbing said stairs increasingly difficult, not to mention the shoulder damage caused by bouncing off the road at high speed on occasions. High ceilings and high shelves were eventually both out of reach. We also longed for some outside space, especially for the dogs. We had a small yard they could use but they needed at least one good walk a day and this often meant driving a short distance into the surrounding countryside and keeping them on their leads whenever they were outside. A garden, we thought, would be heavenly. It was also out of our price range unless we moved to somewhere smaller, more cramped and outside of Saltburn.
So – fewer stairs and more garden, and somewhere quiet, within our rather limited budget. We have a number of friends living in different countries in Europe, an attractive proposition for us as we eyed the uncertainties of Brexit looming ever closer, but most of the possible destinations had potential drawbacks. In particular we wanted to be in easy reach of the UK in case of a family emergency. Both of us have Irish ancestors, albeit one generation too far back to allow us to claim an Irish passport. We have some good friends in Ireland – better friends than we could have imagined, and for someone selling a house in England property was not cheap but at least within reach.
We looked around our large house, took a deep breath and decided to start clearing it out. Thirty years is a long, long time to live in one place and it is only too easy to acquire a great deal of stuff – our own stuff and some treasured possessions from departed relatives. Nevertheless, we set to, weeding the books and sorting the china, delighting the local charity shops for a few weeks.
And then we got sick.
And everything had to stop.