Jesamine, Jilly and me
My travels are supposed to be about exploring the coastline of the British Isles but lockdown has put that on hold for a while. Lots of people are flocking to the coast and so Jilly (a friend I made in Shetland, who actually lives in Cornwall) and I decided to meet inland. As luck would have it, we found a small campsite nestled deep in the Somerset countryside.
So last week I took Jesamine on my longest journey yet – 175 miles to Batcombe Vale Campsite. I’d decided to leave Molly at home with Lovely Son as I had some visits to make on the way, and I’m glad I did as the temperature was sweltering. I melt in the heat, and Molly is far worse.
Jilly and I were both nervous – we’d never actually camped in our vans overnight before. As I drove in, I was afraid I’d feel like an imposter among all the serious equipment transported by very expensive cars. But I needn’t have worried, everyone was friendly and welcoming and on our first evening a lady opposite came over for a G&T.
I’d left my walking boots at home (it was a mistake, honestly!) and so any hikes were out of the question but with the weather so warm it was lovely to just mooch around the campsite and catch up on the things we’ve been doing since Shetland.
I still think about that time and know that I’m lucky. I hadn’t realised it then, but I was running away, allowing my brain to rest and my heart to find stillness. Being in Shetland gave me that, and more. I found confidence and the time to just be. We don’t often get that in life.
I’ve wondered, too, about Jesamine – am I running away? Am I simply finding another way to keep the grief at bay? I don’t think so. Buying a campervan and travelling around the UK and Europe was something Tim and I had planned to do and so I feel as if he’s there, with me. Only now I have to do all the planning, map reading, and driving. I’m not doing it in the way that he would (he was so good at all that stuff) but I’m finding my own path. It’s a bit rickety at times (I got lost on my way to the campsite) but I’m learning that it doesn’t matter. I can go at my own pace. I’m lucky. I have so many people who are helping me and looking out for me.
I’m itching to hit the road, to take a longer trip. But the pandemic is making me twitchy to go too far. I’ll stay in my homeland of East Anglia for now – there is so much I haven’t seen – and then next year (if all goes well) maybe I’ll be confident enough for a month or two away.
When I first bought Jesamine, the lovely owner said I should explore France and Switzerland. That seemed like such a huge, scary thing to do. But now, just nine weeks later, I’m thinking about it. The idea is churning away in the back of my mind.
I have a new-found confidence. I have a sense of humour. But more importantly, I have breakdown cover. What more could I need?