Where did I leave off last time? Oh yes. The house cleaning. I was grumbling about how much there was to do and how long it was taking to do it. Not much more has been accomplished and it may be assumed I’m now grumbling that I’d really rather get on with it… such is the contrariness of human nature.
Needless to say -but I will- deep cleaning our house isn’t what I had hoped for my favourite autumn months of the year. Day trips and beach walks had been discussed. We managed a couple by combining them with errands.
Much is discussed by the G.O. and myself usually appended by the salutary observation “this is just conversation” to forestall precipitous assumption or action… for most most, plans are selectively set in place when the stars align. We’ve learned from experience the folly of doing it differently.
The year of 2020 that was Covid-19 v.1 certainly underscored the futility of expectations. For us, like for so many others, the pandemic ambuscaded [my new favourite word] the few modest plans we’d rashly made for those first months and we settled into a holding pattern of wait and see.
So, we did a lot of hoping, talking and not-planning around what we could count on: the G.O. attaining official retirement age in June 2021; recovery from his knee replacement, and what it might mean for our dreams.
Again like many, we have high hopes for 2022 and beyond. Even for pragmatic-us, patience isn’t easy because on our horizon are exciting possibilities… that we’ve been looking forward to for quite some time.
Of course, we have to contend with other prosaic factors: my mother-in-law aged almost 88 waiting on much needed hip replacement surgery; and both expected and unexpected aspects of the enduring reality of the pandemic.
On the latter point our confidence stumbled. Our aspirations to buy a modest self-contained [i.e. with ensuite] full size -not pop-top style we’d owned previously– semi off-road caravan and take it travelling around Australia looked chancy on so many levels. Along with uncertainty about when and where we might travel, we watched second hand caravan prices soar and Facebook marketplace listings sell quickly regardless. Our long-held dreams were being overwhelmed by those desperate to travel anyhow anywhere they were able. First, we feared we were being priced out of our desired market. Next, we contemplated the reality of settling for less both in terms of type of van and scope of travel. Then, we considered we might need to wait far longer than anticipated.
During the first year of the five and a half years since we quit paid work and city living, we travelled -in our cheap second hand 22-year-old pop-top caravan- around Australia for a total of 5 months and 25000 kilometres. Since then, occupied as we’ve been with working on our house and garden, sorting the G.O.’s medical issues and day-to-day life; we’ve done a single short road trip en route home after visiting my dad.
Much as we love it out here in our village in the hills of the Nambucca Valley, we really need a holiday.
I weakened. After much Googling of dog friendly accommodation and conferring I decided on a tried-and-true vacation destination: Hawks Nest… a place I’ve been taking breaks since before I was born, according to Dad. I went all out -irony intended- and booked us a whole week in a beachfront holiday house in between the G.O.’s birthday and his mother’s: to celebrate his retirement, reward ourselves for our hard work and patience… past and future.
Oh wait. In a moment of far-sightedness once upon a time long ago in the month before Covid beset us all, there was a lunch with the G.O.’s aunt -who is also president of a local caravan club- where I mentioned that we’d be looking to buy a caravan the following year, asked could she keep an eye out, leaving the matter feeling strangely settled… although it faded as time passed.
Almost eighteen months later, a few busy days after I made our make-do holiday arrangements, amidst a week of housework-interuptus errands we got a call; the caravan club were on holiday nearby and one of their older members had suddenly decided to sell his van that was a lot like what we’d been looking for. Despite not being quite ready… we quickly dealt with our commitments and made an inspection time for the following day.
We needn’t have bothered driving over to have a look. In hindsight we could’ve agreed sight-unseen. It was meant to be. There were subtle signs beyond the obvious almost perfect fit to our wish-list and budget… a crochet rug on the bed, a similar-to-our melamine tray on the bench and wine stored in our usual place under the sink. His wife told me, “When I first walked into this van, I thought, I want it”. I replied “Me too”.
But of course, there’s more.
The owners are hanging onto the van for a month to take their time cleaning it out, and our pick-up date falls during our half-paid non-refundable but transferable week away at Hawks Nest which has now been postponed until…
After 4 years of stonewalling and 6 months on the hospital waitlist, a couple of days ago my mother-in-law was notified she has an August date for hip replacement surgery, necessitating numerous medical appointments one or both of us need to attend with her between now and then… not to mention -but I will- post-op recovery and
continued increasing support shared with the G.O.’s sister.
And of course, Covid-shaped life goes on.
As to what the future holds, let’s just channel Jennifer Anniston…
“I always say don’t make plans, make options.”
* No plan survives contact with the enemy… “Military plans always need to be changed once they are enacted in real-life military situations. The saying emphasizes the need for flexibility, as opposed to strict adherence to strategy. It is attributed to Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, a 19th-century Prussian field marshal.”