When problems become challenges once more

Monday May 1, 2006

The TV antenna problem is fixed, or as fixed as it’s going to get for the moment. Graham has resolved that, as soon as we’re in his permanent caravan, he’ll put up a proper mast and external aerial. Meantime, the amplified indoor antenna I obtained today gives as good a signal as we’re going to get. Problem solved

The ‘permanent’ caravan? Well, the one we’ve had since the end of the last season, in October/November, is one of those let out to paying guests in season so we have to vacate it before the first rental guest turns up in June. Graham is to be given another caravan, one of those set aside for staff, before that happens, and that will remain Graham’s for the duration. Confused? Don’t worry about it. Holiday camp management is a fine art, encompassing and overcoming much confusion.

We’d like the caravan switch to happen sooner rather than later. Knowing that this is a temporary abode keeps Graham’s home-making instincts in a suppressed and frustrated state. When we move into his permanent staff accommodation he’ll be able to let rip with the things he wants to get done to make it a stylish second home. During the busiest parts of the season, only a very few weeks, and any night when he has to work very late, he’ll live here, returning to our first home for one or two nights and a full day each week. That’ll be another problem solved.

I’ve finished all my own settling-in tasks and am now ready to go house hunting tomorrow.

I propose to trawl the local agents first in an initial phase designed to track down that nice little old house at the end of the lane, then, if necessary, to extend to the agents in Taunton and Bridgwater on the same quest. I’ll back that up with an extensive lane crawl around the local villages, looking for houses on the market with other, more remote agents, or with private ‘for sale’ signs. There’s a hard core of small agents who do not participate in the online property databases, along with sellers who refuse to use any kind of agent at all and for whom ‘online’ is what happens when you’ve pegged out the laundry to dry. I’ll be scanning the local newspapers very hard, too.

From that process we hope to locate the little old house at the end of the lane. If it goes on too long, long enough for us to tire or to conclude that we’re searching for the impossible, I shall start over and look at new or new-ish houses in the villages and on the outskirts of the towns, somewhere safe to live and to lodge our house equity fund.

Tomorrow, then, I shall do the Williton and Watchet agents. On Wednesday I’ll tackle Minehead, Taunton on Thursday, Bridgwater, Street and Glastonbury on Friday. By the weekend I should have a pretty good idea of the little old house at the end of the lane situation; I may even have found it. So that’s the problem of what to do with myself in the coming week solved, too.

Since we’ve arrived here in Somerset I seem either to have been dashing around on errands or catching up with sleep and rest, in both cases keeping my head down and concentrating on the job in hand. I’ve lifted my eyes up now and again to look at the trees, the hills and the skies but mostly I’ve had my focus set on more earthly matters.

I’ve seen enough, though, to observe that Spring is several weeks further along than was the case in Lincolnshire. Most of the deciduous trees are in leaf, particularly the horse chestnuts—always a special delight for me. The hedgerows are becoming dense, too, and the verges thick with growth. I get the impression that this will be a wonderful year for dandelions. The fields are green with new growth, where they’re not bright yellow with oilseed rape or pale blue with linseed.

The wild birds are further advanced with their Spring business, too, and the morning chorus is a joy. I shall miss the wild geese and ducks flying overhead of course but here I have seagulls and wood pigeons as compensation. I’m happy enough with that.

Sitting here, then, I can hear the constant sound of the surf on the shoreline, the wind in the trees, and the birds singing day and night, when the shifts change. There’s a long, steep and rather rickety stairway down the cliff to tbe beach so I can’t walk the tideline here but I can watch, and I can listen. Just now, sitting and listening is a very short experience, followed instantly by sleep. When you can hear the wind in the trees and the surf on the shoreline there’s no problem with sleep.

To my great astonishment my poetry bone is itching already, in spite of the mundane activites that have occupied me. When I lay my head on the pillow at night, and when I grab a quiet moment during the day, I can hear the old familiar whispering of the words and the itchy tread of the rhythms. It may be a while before I pull out my notebook and put pen to paper but it’s on the way. That’s another problem I need not worry about.

So then. At the end of the settling-in period, and the end of the Bank Holiday weekend, I’m poised, ready and eager, to start the house-hunt. That’s not a problem—it’s a challenge.



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