After an unbelievable 112 days, or 16 weeks, living in the south west of England we are on our way. We could never have envisaged that we would be staying somewhere so long a few months ago but the world has changed completely in an incredibly short time and we’ve all had to adapt.
We arrived in Devon on March 24th after a crazy lockdown-dash from Kent, across London, via multiple trains to be turned away from a closing hotel before being offered the night in a campervan on a friend-of-a-friends driveway.
Excitement and adventure all the way but slightly concerning as we had no idea where we would be staying and how long we’d need to be there. After a few days in the compact and bijou Granary apartment we moved into a self-contained apartment just outside the village of Knowle. Rose and Jim are friends of Jo’s brother Jon and sister-n-law Julie, and kindly offered us the space to rent for as long as we needed. How can we ever thank all of them?
One Hundred and Twelve Days
Does it seem that long? In some ways it feels like we’ve been here far longer and in others as if we arrived last week. We’ve been so comfortable and Rose and Jim have been so welcoming that it really has felt like home and has been the closest we have had to settling down to a routine sort-of-life since we began JWalking over 5 years ago.
We think we have walked somewhere in the region of 700 miles since we arrived and have explored every footpath and bridleway in every direction over the past few months. In fact, and don’t tell any of the locals, I’m sure we know more about the area now than people who have lived here for years.
Lots of reading and crafts along with baking and games have helped us fill the time completely. We haven’t had a single day where we have felt bored or confined, even during the wet weeks of late June. We also managed to get virtually every penny of our planned flights and hotel bookings refunded. Took a huge effort and more emails and phone calls than should be necessary but eventually got our last Turkish Airlines money back last week so very relieved (Refunds and Cancellations).
Our only interactions apart from our hosts have been during our weekly hikes down to Tesco for our food shopping and meeting the odd stranger on a walk, so as Jim keeps telling everyone, we are probably the safest most-isolated people in the whole area!
Housesitting and moving on
A couple of weeks ago I was chatting online to one of the directors of TrustedHouseSitters and she mentioned that she had a booked housesit in Sussex that she was looking to fill and wondered if we were interested. After a phone call we decided it was a great idea and signed up for a long seven week housesit in Hove in East Sussex. It’s in the town but on a quiet street and there are no pets, just a houseful of plants to care for. So seemed like a good way to slowly restart our nomadic life after such a long stay in Devon.
Obviously we don’t have any transport of our own so we are 100% reliant on public transport and will be travelling up by train. With a little research we have managed to book a three train trip that avoids London and any tube travel but still takes around six and a half hours.
We’re not at all concerned by travelling by train as so many people seem to be. As long as we wear our masks, keep our gloves on, wash our hands at every opportunity, and keep our social distancing up then it won’t be any more risky than a trip to Tesco. That’s the theory anyway.
Our last few days here have been busier than normal to be honest with socially-distanced fish’n chips, a picnic in Braunton with Jo’s brother Jon and sister-in-law Julie, and a last-night Thai takeaway with our hosts. All very sociable but sensible.
What’s the plan?
Leaving here Tuesday morning around 9.30am when Rose and Jim are kindly running us to Barnstaple station. Then the Tarka Line train to Exeter before picking up the London-bound train up to Clapham Junction. Changing there for the hop down to Hove on the south coast when we should arrive around 5pm. Good plan so far eh?
Our housesitting hosts have invited us to dinner that evening to we’re looking forward to a chicken curry I believe in our new ‘home‘. They’re off to the airport early Wednesday and that’s it then for us until early September so lots of exploring and walking again and getting used to a new routine. Hopefully we will be able to see a couple of our sons whilst we are there too which will be brilliant.
Our biggest concern currently is packing our backpacks as we have been living like ‘normal‘ people for so long and are completely out of the routine of packing. There are no new clothes as we haven’t been anywhere a shop but we did arrive in coats, jumpers and jeans and will probably leave in t-shirts and shorts so that could be an issue. I’m sure it will all go in eventually but there could be some cursing and grumbling along the way.
Our over-riding memory of living down here in Devon will be of meeting and becoming friends with Rose and Jim, a lovely welcoming couple who saved our lives by offering us a place to stay. We’ll never ever forget their kindness and will be forever grateful. Actually, I think we may be back in October for a bit of housesitting so watch this space.
Thanks Devon, it’s been an adventure.
24/03 – 14/07/2020