Another long break from writing and no excuses. Ok just one. I’ve been busy. Not busy like when you’re in full time work or have three children under four busy, (or both of those, heaven help them). Busy as in we have recently bought a place by the sea and I have been equipping it. This is a task I know many women would just LOVE, but those who know me will know that I am a truly hopeless shopper and take little pleasure in prolonged browsing.
Many times I have been to Ikea/Asda/insert name of large shapeless store and filled my trolley with stuff I think I want, only to find that I don’t as the checkout looms and the thought of the queues and packing and unpacking just overwhelms me and I abandon my cart.
Also I don’t like too much choice. (As an a aside, I am glad I met Mr T when I did! Life partner sorted at 22. Phew). But this is about shopping. I once did all my Christmas food shop from a small Co op in Rochester much to my neighbour’s amusement. I couldn’t face Tesco and the mad scramble.
Internet shopping was invented for me. I can order five dresses – which I did pre wedding – and send all of them back, postage paid. I can click and collect – O frabjous day calloo callay! But when you are buying a sofa, or dining table, something you’ll have to live with for QUITE SOME TIME, it really does mean trawling round the shops and spending a deal of time and money. Even then you have to make the leap of imagination in placing said smart furniture into a previously only glimpsed room. It’s so darn risky and quite a trial for the queen of indecision.
Anyhow we’re getting there. We have dilemmas over beds and mattresses not arriving together. And the wrong bed, too small 4’6″ not 5′. (I was agitating for a truly huge bed but Mr T said no. He likes to know there’s someone beside him evidently. Sweet.) But for the most part the stuff is on its way.
But yesterday he went down to receive a bed and some chairs, and I decided to walk down and join him later. I got a series of very happy texts from him about the sun and the sea and the furniture so it was a good decision.
I walked from my house on the hill to Sandgate about 8 miles and despite crossing the M20 and the Highspeed rail link, a lovelier walk would be hard to imagine. The sun was shining and the birds were busy doing their Disney thing and I felt strong and full of energy.
There were a few hazards – the footpath crosses a golf course. My brother in law’s brother had his teeth knocked out and his jaw smashed by a stray golfball so I walked that part pretty quickily and in addition I was wearing the purple pilgrim jacket of protection so I survived that unscathed. Then the walk took me across a field which is often full of cows, and I know from Adam Henson on Countryfile that you should not enter a field of cows without a stick – he doesn’t – even if their interest is completely benign, they can turn and trample. And then I would be a purple pancake in a cow field. So I picked one up – hefty isn’t it? I wasn’t going to stand any nonsense, calves or no calves.
So on I strode feeling like Julia Bradbury or Janet Street Porter, planning this blog and smiling to myself about walking with my ‘staff’, as if I were royalty. However there were other dangers, which I found out about after I had crossed the MOD field!
Nevertheless this is what I discovered: that as I walked I felt freer and more myself and less pressured by issues which feel so huge – this or that sofa, family concerns, whether our neighbours are going to be pleasant, whether they will respect the rules – important to me as you know – telescope backwards and become less and less significant and all this stuff, which seems so pressing just isn’t. My mind loosened up and again the walk and my body and my self merged and I felt that liberating sense of flow which is so precious and so hard to describe or share.
There’s a line in Lord of the Rings when, after his eleventy first birthday party, Bilbo sets off on his travels again. He says to Gandalf: “Don’t worry about me. I am as happy now as I’ve ever been, and that is saying a great deal. But the time has come and I am being swept off my feet at last. “
He then begins to sing ‘The road goes ever on and on’ – which I do too on occasion but mostly I say ” I am as happy now as I’ve ever been”. And it’s mostly when I am walking because it frees me in a way I can’t explain but try to.