Our channel tunnel journey home was almost the mirror image of our journey out. We arrived early enough to be offered an earlier tunnel crossing but ended up departing slightly later than originally booked.
From the tunnel we drove back home with only a short break for lunch. As always we were overwhelmed by the volume of traffic on British motorways. So many people crammed into such a small space!
Back at our storage spot on the farm the weeds had used the opportunity to grow tall around our car. The nettles in particular had decided to grow just where Bertie’s garage door would normally open. We moved the car, trod down the weeds and unloaded as much of our gear as possible dodging the stingers. Note to self to take the strimmer up at some point.
Last time we were long term travelling we had no fixed abode. This time we have our little seaside flat as a home base and that felt good, especially as Mum had been round to do a bit of extra cleaning. There’s nothing quite like returning to a lovely clean home.
I walked into the new kitchen that Paul had been installing in the weeks before we left and imagined all the baking I could do. Paul looked forward to getting into the garage and tinkering with various projects, but that would have to wait for a couple of days as Paul was straight off for a weekend with his nephews. They had tickets to watch Exeter Chiefs play La Rochelle in the European Cup semi finals. I was a little miffed that they were going without me but as Chiefs ended up losing I wasn’t as disappointed as I might have been.
We were looking forward to springtime in Devon, walks along the coast and on the moors. Opportunities to see bluebells and forage for wild garlic. I was keen to go running with my buddies again and Paul was going to help a friend ready his Landrover for the National Rally in May.
Our return home also meant we could check in with our parents. Caring for our parents was something we never even considered when we left for our travels in 2017, but just as we’ve got older so have our they and 2022 was the year when a switch to a new phase of life seemed to happen. In summer my Dad’s Alzheimer’s Disease got to the point where Mum couldn’t manage his care at home and residential care became the only option. The move to a care home was upsetting but ultimately a great relief to everyone. Then Paul’s mum died unexpectedly in September; as part of a couple Paul’s dad never outwardly seemed to need help but without his wife the extent of his support needs became apparent. We spent time working with him to set up his home for his mobility issues, sorting out paperwork and helping him transition to life as a widower. On Christmas Day my Nan, who lived with Mum, passed away suddenly. Mum, who had two people to care for earlier in the year, was now living alone. The shape of our parents’ lives has changed and with it the way that we look at our own lives and responsibilities.
So, as well as enjoying our home base, returning home was our opportunity to spend some more time with Paul’s Dad, relieving Paul’s sisters and nephews who had expanded their own responsibilities while we were away. It was a chance to visit my Dad on a regular basis, bringing him the foods that seem to be his primary source of enjoyment and just spending time being with him. And it was an opportunity to spend time with Mum planning our long distance charity hike in June.