Whilst some may say this year has been the hardest year of their lives, looking back now, I think with hindsight, we personally, were blessed.
This time last year we were heading into the New Year with lots of changes about to happen in our lives. We’d just returned from the most magical last Christmas as a family of four. We’d spent Boxing Day with my parents, it’s now over a year since we last saw them. A few viewings of our house had taken place over the festive period and Jellybean number 1 was fluffing her feathers and about to fly the nest. Jellybean number 2 was entering her final months of teacher training and looking forward to welcoming her very first class in September and we’d landed the lovely site in Broadway for our summer season. Having accommodation on site meant on our days off we’d be able to hitch up and find new areas to explore.
Before Broadway though, six glorious weeks soaking up the sunshine in Lanzarote with the Jellybeans and Guyropes joining us for our final week. What could go wrong? It was going to be a good year, it was going to be our year. The year of change, a new chapter. The first five weeks in Lanzarote glided by, we met up with a few friends, we ate, we drank we sunbathed. We put on weight. Rumblings afoot in China of a virus and Storm Dennis thundering his way towards the UK put the Jellybean’s flight back by three very stressful days. More food, sightseeing and laughter, China’s rumblings getting louder by the day, we’re ok, it’s miles away. A strange orange glow on the horizon, there’s a Calima coming in. The worst in a good few years. Sand from the Sahara hung in the sky, breathing was difficult, we were advised to stay indoors and wear a face covering if we ventured out. Little did we know this was to be the way of the world for the foreseeable, although it would have nothing to do with sand.
Back in the UK and we loaded the car with everything bar the kitchen sink. It seems the smell of cinnamon candles and twinkly lights on the tree had enticed a young couple into signing in the dotted line. Our lovely home had sold. Our downsize, mortgage free forever home, doesn’t have a garage, we have a lifetime of crap to sift and sort through. Our garage at work was going to become temporary storage whilst we get a grip on packing up in anticipation of moving at the end of March.
By now, the world is starting to wash it’s hands singing happy birthday. Boris and his Merry men were deciding what was for the best as we got to grips with our lovely new site. Jellybean number 1 got the keys to her new home, we were looking forward to our next weekend off, helping her move in and hopefully getting the keys to our new house. Then came the fateful day, sites were to close, the country was going into lockdown. Shelves stripped bare, hand sanitiser, standing in the cold on dots outside supermarkets, 2 metres apart waiting to go in and not a loo roll in sight. The roads were quiet, everyone did as they were told and stayed home. We locked the site gates and were instantly grateful we’d chosen to store our bikes at work. Our lockdown garden was big enough to ride round and the weather was kind to us. We plonked the caravan on a pitch and spent lazy days flitting between the caravan and our accommodation.
The Boss rode Lands End to John O’Groats without leaving site, I pootled around on my bike listening to podcasts and music. The weight started dropping off. Reluctant to leave site, we’d run out of alcohol in the very early days of lockdown and after returning from Lanzarote feeling slightly pickled, now seemed a good time to detox a little. As the three months of lockdown came to a head we started to take the tandem out on the quiet country lanes.
Boris deemed house moves could go ahead, finally, six months after signing on the dotted line we were allowed to go home, pack and move. Jellybean number 1 had moved in without our help. A stepping stone in a parent’s life, I’d missed thanks to this nasty virus, although I know other parents have missed bigger milestones. I still felt robbed. We did our house move ourselves, not wanting to let germ ridden people into our home, touching our stuff, breathing our air and of course cos The Boss is as tight as a duck’s arse.
All settled in the new house, back to site to get it ready to open. Having isolated for three months the way we did, the world and it’s inhabitants were very scary. Four months of site being open, masks, gloves, sanitiser, Perspex screens, and yes, you must queue outside for the loo, just like you queue for Tesco, flew and also dragged its feet. Before we blinked, it was time to go home. What turned out to be a short season felt like we’d worked a full season. We felt like we’d been hit by a bull dozer on full throttle, the promise of rest was gratefully received.
Home, felt lovely. Home felt safe. Lockdown eased a little and we were once again allowed to go away as long as we stayed within our tier. Six very wet days at the New Forest provided time to wind down and relax and give us our little bit of caravan time.
Over the year we’ve done seventy three nights in the van, albeit only six of them away from work. I lost friends to this nasty virus, my Dad in true Lazarus style pulled through it. As for the rest of our winter break, Lanzarote has been put back a year and we’re not very hopeful of another week in the caravan. Another positive, we’ve lost approximately eight stone in weight between us and certainly feel a lot healthier for it. Fingers crossed for next season, our 2020 plans will just get carried over. Goodbye 2020, you won’t be missed but you’re certainly going to go down in history.