celebrating and connecting

I was exhausted and looking forward to time in the Great Wilderness of the West (a remote caravan site on top of a Donegal hill). We’d lie about together, play board games, explore beaches and generally chill out. We’d also investigate various hostelries for a few moments of internet access. I blamed the children…

I could have stayed in the caravan for ever, but it was time to pack up for the winter. Spurs Fan and Jake came home, surrounded by bedding and laundry. The girls and I moved into a hotel with a swimming pool and heat. We were at regional Irish dancing championships, and I didn’t have to drive anywhere. I could relax, and reconnect with the outside world. There were hundreds of dancers & hangers on, all of us looking for wifi. Ok, some were looking for good performances and medals, but everyone wanted wifi. It didn’t work.

I was full of excitement and disbelief. After months of delay, the NI Rare Disease Implementation Plan was going to be launched. We’d been working and lobbying and gently encouraging. I’d resorted to a little twitter nagging. The occasional Health Minister was studiously avoiding his constituency office, in case Ditsy was still there, waiting to talk to him. I wanted to shout it from the roof tops. I wanted to jump for joy. We were being listened to and involved. Huge steps forward for rare disease in NI were being announced.

And I was miles from home, with dodgy internet access.

Late at night, I saw a picture of Chair, the Health Minister (back to full time), and one of our friendly neighbourhood geneticists. Not only do we have a plan, we’re getting a Genomic Medicine Centre, a fantastic resource for speeding up diagnosis.

christine, simon, shane

“It’s happening, it’s happening, I must send a message… oh, internet down again.” I was so excited, and had nobody to share it with. The other mums nodded politely as their eyes glazed over. The girls said ‘that’s good’ and went back to practising clicks and jumps and being fierce.

By the time I got back to reliable internet, my brain was too fogged to think, or communicate, or to read anything.

Eventually, I will makes some sense of what lies ahead for us. In the meantime, a little kitchen boogie is appropriate.

the soft furnishing explosion

Last weekend involved cleaning and sorting and arranging. And rearranging. Then, after a little while, arranging all over again.

We moved into the new-to-us caravan without too much bother. A few car loads of crockery, bedding and beach things, and we were pretty much sorted. The orange was largely hidden, while many curtains and pelmets were dumped. I kept finding grub when I thought all was clean, but it was probably no worse than the house is.

It appears that moving is a remarkably sociable activity. Men appeared with tool boxes and/or dogs to share the excitement of moving a swirly washing line or fitting a satellite dish. Temporarily, we provided a man shed.

That wasn’t going to last- I had throws and cushions to sort. IKEA may not have many cheap cream throws left. Girls made up all the beds and organised blankets like they’d done all this before. Then they played twister on the new rug.

caravan seats, cushions, throws, IKEA

We have more space, warmth and neutral fittings. We have fewer passers by.

We have views. All the views. When I manage to take pictures that do the scenery justice, I’ll share them. Imagine hills, fields, forest, sea and four counties. We’re in the middle of nowhere, but on a clear day we can see to everywhere.

I live in the city, but I’m not of the city. I need the space to breathe, play board games, and watch a small dog deal with joy of forest-y animal-y smells.

moving on up

We are moving up in the world.

By about 100 yards.

We’ve been very happy with our crumbly caravan in the middle of nowhere, but the time has come for a younger model. After months of pondering and negotiating and doing sums, we move this weekend.

view, Donegal, hills

We’re staying on the same caravan site (hills, fields, wind and glimpses of sea) but have acquired a new-to-us van in a quiet spot beside the forest. We’ll not hear the 3am basketball games any more.

The new green caravan is about half the age of the crumbly one and feels frankly luxurious to us. Not just bedrooms and plumbing, but 3 bedrooms and a separate shower room and WC.  The kitchen has more storage and space than the one at home- not that we’ll be wildly creative- but ooh, the novelty.

As before, the built in caravan fabrics are horrible (orange) and will be disguised by any amount of cream throws. It may take some time to deal with the curtains, but we’ll have years. A trip to IKEA this week gathered extension leads, those throws and some lamps. I’m sure I’ll need to go back, but Spurs fan is hoping that can be delayed until April. Yeah.

A weekend of excitement looms. A space to be defined and adorned. A whole new representation of us.

If we can survive the cleaning, the packing, the unpacking, and the shuttling between tin cans.


We took a trip to the seaside. The west. In February. You’d be correct in assuming we were well wrapped up.

The caravan was intact, if a little mouldy round the edges. One nearby was not so lucky. Winter storms had taken its roof. Had that happened us, I’d be distressed about the curtains and very important decorations, Spurs Fan would be annoyed about the satellite dish, and the girls would take the opportunity to encourage us to upgrade. They’ll slum it for another while.

We hadn’t made the journey in months, so we noticed the roadworks that were finally finished, the house that got sold, the trimmed hedges and the fresh paint. We cheered for our own identifiers- the bike shop, the donut & wine shop, little heather hill. It feels like home.

Not for the first time, we crossed the island under a cloud. The only dry spot between the east coast city and the Atlantic ocean was the beach. Havoc wreaked by the winter was there also, dunes and paths washed away, debris and rubbish washed high.

The girls were still teaching me about taking photographs on my phone- panoramas, filters, video and other oddities.

Then the beach worked its magic and they ran off to be children, exploring, discovering and laughing.

What joy.