Tales from the riverbank, part one
For Ms Lockwood at The Lockwood Echo: not a real newspaper, one of my favourite blog names.
Photo: we have made friends with a swan
So re-entry went well, thanks to our forward planning and a touch of magic from the forces of the universe.
We left our hostel in Ho Chi Min, Vietnam at one thirty am local time on Thursday, flew to Bejing, had a few hours there then flew to London. We arrived in London at around six pm local time Thursday, after a journey of around twenty three hours.
We got the underground to Kings Cross. My husband pointed out that there were only four colours of clothes on the train and that I was the most outrageously dressed, in a burnt orange jumper and blue scarf.
We walked to the Travelodge, dumped our bags, had a quick wash, brushed our teeth, dressed as respectably and warmly as we could, and went out to the all you can eat Indian veg in Chapel Market with my husband’s children. They commented that we seemed much more together than they had expected, which we were pleased about. Ooh, but it was bitterly cold walking about that evening!
We went back to the room, watched five minutes of Netflix and fell asleep. The next morning I showered and washed my hair even though I didn’t feel like it, knowing I’d feel like it even less on the boat. I forgot that UK bathrooms are not all wet rooms like in India, so that’s why they have the sign explaining how to use a shower curtain… The toilet seat being cold on one’s bum, was a ‘new’ sensation.
In the spirit of making the most of hotel opportunities I had a big breakfast of Linda McCartney sausages, baked beans, mushrooms and tomatoes before we left for the train station.
A woman almost walked straight into my husband, she was looking at her phone. Everyone seemed to be in their own worlds. It was busy, but so quiet. We saw more homeless people in two minutes than we had in six days in Ho Chi Min.
When we got to Northampton we bought sleeping bags just in case all our bedding on the boat had gone mouldy, then got the bus to our village.
At the village we took photos at the bus stop like we had before we left. See blog post Nothing to lose but our dignity from March last year. We bought a few things from the shop and walked to the boat.
The boat was fine. Everything was dry inside, which felt like a miracle. Our clothes, our bedding, our mattress, everything was fine. It was Friday afternoon. After lighting the fire and eating beans on toast we went to the yard over the road with the wheelbarrow and got coal, logs and kindling. We went back there again Saturday morning and got another bag of coal. The yard is closed Saturday afternoon and Sunday all day, so arriving back Friday afternoon was perfect.
We had a warm welcome from our landlord, and we met some of the other boat people again, which was nice.
We weren’t as tired as we had feared, and it wasn’t as hard as we’d feared. But we were tired. The first night I wondered was it too late to message someone, then looked at the time and saw it was only 8.20!
As well as sleeping, the first few days have been spent unpacking and sorting out where to put things. Rediscovering things in the cupboards and drawers; jeans, natural shampoo, moisturiser, and best of all, Marmite! Enjoying Heinz tomato soup and toast with wholefood peanut butter after a good walk.
The garage came and collected the car on Monday, it passed its MOT easily and we walked to collect it on Tuesday.
We had five days on the boat before we went anywhere. I couldn’t believe it had been five days! We’d hardly done anything, and yet I couldn’t have done any more. It was the best possible place to be post re-entry, on a boat at the edge of a village. It was nice not having a car and just using the village shop and not having to brave a big supermarket.
Walking about, everything seems really clean. A bit plain, but nice and green, with blue skies when they are there. Dogs seem really big!
No street sellers, no plastic tables and chairs on the pavement creating a pop up cafe, with a karaoke set up on a motorbike stopping by to add to the party, like in Vietnam.
We walked 3.7 miles to the garage and aside from our village shop at the start, we didn’t pass a single shop. Not like in India, where there’s always food and drink nearby, someone selling chai, a street vendor selling bananas.
My husband said, it’s the price we pay for law and order, regular rubbish collections and clean drinking water, things are sanitised, and therefore in comparison, a bit boring.
Feeling the matrix now that we are back in the UK but remembering, interface with it on your own terms. Stay in the present, stick to the plan. Finish the book. Maintain the blog. Keep frequency high. Keep fear at bay.
Realising, now is the time to let go my fingertips from the cliff face and trust fall into the universe. Not the trip, now. This is the new life.
Thank you very much for reading