Unpredictability - Good for your health

Our modern life is based on organising an environment free from the unexpected. The house needs to be as stable and reliable as possible. The job as safe as possible. Nothing should break down. Nothing but what we predict, should occur.
This is the life of the zoo animal. Let's explore the life of the Nomad. Let's live the life of the Nomad.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Milton Earnest

I had been due to make the 170 mile trip up North to see my sister and her son, and so last weekend was the time to do it.  When your vehicle is over twenty years old these sort of trips are a real adventure.  You never know whether you will need to be towed to your destination - and just in case I do have a vehicle breakdown policy open with the RAC.  This costs me near to one hundred pounds a year.  But let's face it:  how often do you see a Ford Transit van broken down on the side of the road?  Hardly ever, and in fact most recovery vehicles are actually Ford Transits although of course they are rarely over twenty years old.

Well the trip up North was without advent and the traffic was mild.  The children sat in the back eating crisps and sweets.  I am the sort of father that insists on feeding his kids good wholesome food but I gave in and got these treats for the kids.  Some of the readers who know me personally will smirk somewhat at that last sentence, but really I do insist on feeding the kids well every fortnight when I have them for the weekend in my caravan.  Which reminds me - I just love taking bad photos and I struck gold when I purchased this PRAKTICA camera for six pounds from a car boot sale.  So here is a picture of the inside of my caravan from the back looking forward.

What luxury!!  Being a Nomad doesn't mean you have to live like a hippie - no, I enjoy a living space fit for the Queen herself.  Behind the door is a bathroom with toilet and shower - very useful when you have to combine being a Nomad with the hygiene requirements of also keeping a business contract going.

I had recently met up again with "C" - which was nice since we had split up some time ago and I had been living the life of the lonely singleton.  "C" was happy to come along also since she is a family centred person who likes to adventure out also.

It took a few hours to arrive at Milton Earnest.  There was no drive space for me to park my sizeable van, and so I parked it with the left wheels up on the grass on the side of the road so as not to block the road to other traffic.  It was great to see my sister, her new boyfriend and her son again.  We had our lunch and decided on driving to a nearby camping store - Go Outdoors.  As we left the house the next door neighbour came out with a look on his face as if someone had eaten his Cheezels (a delicious Australian cheese snack).  The poor chap was most upset about my van (he called it a "thing") parked with two wheels on grass - grass which did not even belong to him.  My initial thought was that the grumpy old man needed to chill, perhaps smoke some grass.  If it was my house I would have told this Nimby (Nimby = "Not In My Back Yard - a derogatory term us Nomads use to refer to anal house dwellers) to wind his neck in somewhat and get back into his cave.  But since this was my sister's place I went along with it and agreed the van wouldn't be parked with two wheels on the grass.

At Go Outdoors I bought for myself a stand for the water barrel I use - I am hoping putting it on a stand and putting a barrel coat around it may prevent the contents from freezing.  It is annoying that  the barrel needs to be positioned on the outside - if the inlet and boiler was on the same side as the door, the whole thing would have been inside the awning with less chance of a freeze up.  I think this is a design fault but I guess caravans are mainly used in the milder spring and summer seasons.

Now, whenever I am with my sister she insists on reminding me about how I made her childhood years a misery - and I do feel guilty about this.  It is not nice never to be able to beat your eldest brother at Scrabble or Monopoly or Chess or Checkers.  Well guilt is guilt so to feel a little better I had decided to take everyone out to dinner.  We went to an Italian restaurant called Mama Mia - and the food was very good indeed.  It was then back to the house and the WII games console system was out.  There was a dancing game they played and if one can imagine those tribal communities where the folks dance with spears and chant strange things around a fire.  It was a bit like that and rather embarrassing. I thought "C" was also embarrassed but she later admitted she wanted to join in as well.  After the dancing had worn the family down - they decided to put on a sports game and I tried out the table tennis.  Yes these things are very addictive indeed.

The next morning we drove the vehicles to the Harrold Country Park.  Here we had a nice walk around a scenic lake.  Once again, a good opportunity for me to use my dodgy camera.

And so it was then time to say our farewells and begin the long journey home.  The traffic was bumper to bumper much of the way along the M1.  There had been a pile up and it isn't a nice thing to see the scene of a crash.  There was an ambulance and many police vehicles and I hope no one was seriously hurt.

The trusty old van got us back home without "missing a beat" as the saying goes.  I have decided my next van must have power steering since I have been suffering tennis elbow all week.  It really does require some serious muscle to steer this van at slow speed.  Hope you all have a great weekend.


Thursday, 3 November 2011

Gypsy Girl and without Contract

WH Smiths is a general stationary and book store you will find on any English high street.  During my lunch break I will often take a look at the the new book releases and so it was a surprise, after recently reading a book called Gypsy Boy, to now see a book titled Gypsy Girl.

Gypsy Girl was written by an Irish traveller named Rosie McKinley, although a few pages in you read that this is a pseudonym: and in fact all the names are made up to protect the privacy of the lives discussed in the autobiography.

I have spent the last three days reading this book and this is because my contract has not been extended.  Not yet.  It is all a bit annoying since it is all due to a failure in administration.  As soon as the relevant forms are signed by the relevant managers, then the contract will resume.  So while it is nice to have had a few days without work, it is not as if I could plan anything special since I need to be able to cycle back into work as soon as the paper  work is sorted.

Now this book, Gypsy Girl, is a very moving and fascinating insight into the life of the Irish Traveller growing up in England.  A story about a girl whose throat was mauled as a baby by a dog.  Who grew up attending eight different schools, but only temporarily and so never managed to learn to read until her adult years.

And if you can retain some prejudice against the travelling community try at least to imagine a life of a gypsy girl that only wanted to learn to read and whose naturally inquisitive mind set her apart from her peers.  A girl whose grandfather died at 14 and whose father had an affair at the same time and whose mother took to depression and alcohol, leaving the girl to become the substitute mother to raise the family.  A girl that became a woman that married at 17 and had her kids and whose alcoholic husband regularly beat her black and blue.  And while she tried to save her kids from this atmosphere of violence and heart ache, ultimately the husband tracked the wife and the wife got the beating.

So it is a sad story and  the husband eventually died from the alcohol abuse.   Rosie, obviously an intelligent and strong woman, took some adult reading courses for travellers, learned to read and write, and also to become an advocate for the travelling world.  And in the end she found her non travelling man who treated her well and so, all things considered, in the end Rosie finds happiness.

And the story is not all grim and there are some very interesting and also funny aspects of gypsy life narrated.  For instance, and this was something I didn't realise, a good portion of the travelling world actually live in council houses.  After life where over a half a dozen folk are living living in a caravan, can you imagine what it must be like to be given a four bedroom house to live in?  It would be a pretty good feeling I am sure, except there was too much space and so the parents decided, for the first night, that the whole family was to sleep in the kitchen.

So again I can recommend an interesting book available in paper back so won't bruise your bank account at only 7 pounds.

Update - just found out contract is extended so it's off to work for me.  Have a great day everyone.