Backwards and Forwards

DSCF0391.JPG We’ve travelled hundreds of miles backwards and forwards these last weeks.

We’ve been through to Edinburgh several times looking for a care home for Jo and a new home for us. It usually takes about 45 minutes to get there in the morning, and around 2 hours to get back again as our departure generally coincides with the evening traffic. Some people do that every day… not our idea of fun. But being able to visit the Botanical Garden in April definitely is – pulsatillas and trilliums below, cherry blossom above. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an amazing show of blossom as in Edinburgh this Spring, a city with such a lot of green spaces is a mass of white and pink.

We’ve been back to Wales – a day in a car going south, a day’s conference, another day in a car going north.

We had to go back to Drumnadrochit to clear Jo’s flat. We stayed for a couple of nights with former next-door neighbours Trish and Adrian in their lovely cottage B&B, which was a real treat. We went next door to our old abode to pick up some mail they had kept for us, which was a bit weird. We stood in what used to be our kitchen, and so little had changed (the wooden walls, the green carpet, the big fridge freezer, the mug racks, even my washing-up bowl) but it felt completely different. And dark. And doggy. We beat a hasty retreat, and ran through the village to the restaurant where we were having a meal with Linda and John Boden to say thanks to them for all they did for Jo while we were away.

DSCF0404.JPG A couple of weeks later we were back in Drum, for a very short and probably the very last time, loading a van with those pieces of Jo’s furniture going with her to her new care home in Edinburgh, and taking it to Nairn for storage alongside our stuff that’s been there in four wooden containers since last November. We stayed at the Golf View hotel, a rather grand establishment we hadn’t visited since the early UHI days, and were amused to park our enormous white van right outside the front entrance between a couple of poncy sports models. It was a fabulous sunny evening and after a long walk on the beach we celebrated our four-star accommodation with a picnic in our room, a bottle of Leffe Brune and a mini-collapse in front of the TV. Breakfast was excellent though.

DSCF0380.JPG This week things moved very quickly and so did we, backwards and forwards, quite a lot. On Wednesday we went to Edinburgh and saw a care home we really liked for Jo, which was able to accept her and care for her particular set of needs. On Thursday Dee did a lot of phoning, planning and booking. On Friday morning (Good Friday) we picked up another van, drove it to Nairn, and loaded up Jo’s stuff.

Yesterday we fetched Jo from her less-than-ideal nursing home in Grantown-on-Spey and delivered her to her new residence in leafy, blossom-bestrewn Morningside. With the three of us in the front of the van, it felt a little bit like a prison break (to the tune of ‘We are the self-preservation society…’). We sorted her room, saw her settled, and headed west again.

DSCF0388.JPG We’ve taken the opportunity of these two visits to Nairn to fetch a few items from store that we didn’t expect to be separated from for this long. Like a few more tee-shirts, some cotton trousers, sandals and lighter shoes, and my new hill-walking boots Dee gave me for my birthday last September which until now have climbed nothing more exciting than the stairs at 14 Lewiston, but which now like generations of their predecessors can have their traditional first outing on Ben Lomond. Oh, and a couple of crates of food (including cat food) which in our previous life as ridiculous hoarders we (including the cats) had been unable to jettison or consume  before we left.

DSCF0385.JPG Searching through all four of our containers – box 42 (shoes) took a great deal of finding – had the salutary effect of horrending us with the volume and scale of our stuff. We thought we’d got rid of so much, but still we kept things we’ve no idea why. We’ve been living small for so long – in a caravan, in a room – that many of the mental ties to former possessions have been eroded. We no longer need things, just because we have them. Time to let go of quite a lot more, I think. Which is just as well, if things go according to plan with our flat-hunting in the capital. Most of the properties we’ve seen so far have echoed Rose’s categorisation of potential new flats in Montreal – mingers, super-mingers and uber-mingers – but we are still pursuing our dream, and looking forward.

Circumstances and the unseasonably fine weather have conspired to enable us to revive an expert connaissance of Scottish Italian ice cream. Miele’s of Hopeman being sadly no more, we were delighted to discover the best 99 in the north-east lives on at Miele’s of Forres. But I have to confess to a developing penchant for the delights of Luca’s of Musselburgh (with a branch in Morningside) – almost enough to tempt a Weedgie to Embra.

PS I have to blog this – my dear friend Silvia in Jena once told me that humanity divides into two groups – those who have, and those who have not, read The Brothers Karamasov. I am proud to record that I now belong to the latter group. I almost gave up at 5% (that’s about 50 pages for non Kindlers) but persevered, as one does with such a challenge, and was actually quite gripped by the end (now there’s an endorsement for the canon of world literature, how Dostoevsky would have been pleased).

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