Ready and Waiting

Home is never a bad place to be. In fact, we should feel lucky to have one, when so many do not. And now that the cold of winter has finally lost its grip there are pockets of sunshine between bursts of rain. The garden is waking and those first, bright, lime green shoots are appearing as well as hoards of weeds.

We are, however in house arrest at the moment due to circumstances [ill health] and inevtably we’re wishing we could be off on a travel adventure, as so many others are, according to social media.

Our last big trip was last autumn, to Corsica and Sardinia. On our return, knowing the van would be used much less throughout the winter I did my thorough, interior clean. I have a routine for this. I use a bucket of hot, soapy water. First, I deal with the fridge, taking out the shelves and grills and washing it all. Next I tackle the cooker, sink and worktop before turning my attention to the shelves and drawers inside our larder cupboard.

All cutlery, pans, plates, cups etc are brought indoors to be stacked into the dishwasher before being returned to their [clean] spots. Then it’s the ledges, windows and cab. The front cab is always covered in dust and grime after a lengthy trip. After this I turn my attention to the miniscule shower and toilet.

Lastly there’s the floor, which gets vaccuumed then scrubbed. I take the mats outside, hang them on our garden wall and give them a good bashing to eliminate dust. Of course there are times when rugs etc need replacing.

The exterior is Husband’s responsibility, as are the changes [he likes to call them ‘modifications’] he is always trialling. I have yet to find a good system for storing mugs and glasses that eradicates clinking noises as we travel. I did try florist’s ‘oasis’ foam but it crumbles, leaving a dusty deposit on everything. At the moment the mugs on the shelf travel with tea towels wrapped around them.

Though the van is getting elderly [aren’t we all…] it scrubs up well, is reliable [so far] and won’t be swapped any time soon, although at the moment it is languishing outside our home while we wait for health issues to be resolved…

Grace is the alter ego of novelist and short story writer, Jane Deans. To date I have two published novels to my name: The Conways at Earthsend [ and The Year of Familiar Strangers [ Visit my writer Facebook page [ or my website:

2019-The Year in Travel


One way or another, this year we’ve indulged in seven trips, which seems, on first reading to be self-indulgent [a view that is certainly hinted at by some]. I don’t like to call our pieces of travel ‘holidays’, because holiday is an ambiguous term that means different things to different people. A holiday to many [myself included when I was a proper working person] is simply a break from work, lolling on a sofa in pyjamas watching movies. To others it is somewhere hot, lolling by a pool in swimwear. For us it is a foray into learning about places-their history and geography, the art and the culture.

The first 2019 trip was in January-to Scotland in our camper van, which may appear a strange choice to some, but the weather, though cold [-6 at Loch Ness] was mainly crisp and sunny, ideal for seeing the dramatic scenery of The Cairngorms or the grandiose architecture of Glasgow.


Next, in February, we made a self-indulgent winter sun visit to Barbados, a tiny, laid-back, friendly island, where we self-catered in a modest ‘apart-hotel’ and enjoyed the company of our fellow guests, jovial Canadians, most of them.


In the spring we trundled off along the [extremely wet] north coast of Spain, a spectacular journey following the pilgrims route to Santiago de Compostela. This rugged coast includes many cliffside towns that would rival the Amalfi Coast, if only there was sunshine and dry weather. We continued on around the corner to Portugal, which defied our experience of always being warm and sunny to be cloudy and windy. There is not much left of Portugal we haven’t seen but it remains a favourite destination.

northern spanish coast

We undertook an early summer jaunt to Brittany, to cycle some of the Nantes-Brest canal. This was a spectacularly successful trip, the well-appointed, municipal sites along the canal cheap and conveniently placed by the towpath. But the temperature soared into the 40s, making cycling tricky even in the evenings. It was, however scenic, memorable and pleasant and we are likely to cycle some more French canal paths.

Brittany cycling

Later in the summer we stayed locally in a New Forest site by a small, handy railway station and a large pub, hosting a small granddaughter who had requested to come camping with us and fell in love with it all immediately, especially riding around on her bike, being surrounded by wild ponies and cows and eating outside in the fresh air.


This was followed in the autumn by a visit to the outrageously gorgeous Italian lakes, starting with Lugano and continuing on to Como, Iseo, Garda and Maggiore-all very different but all breathtakingly beautiful-and new to us as a destination. The return drive over The Alps via the Simplon Pass was spectacular and I’ve no doubt we’ll return to the lakes at some point.


Our last outing, in October,  was to visit Norwegian friends where they live overlooking a fjord near Aalesund. We were gifted with cool, clear sunshine and our hosts’ hospitality was lavish.

norway 19

So a brilliant year of travel; but where to in 2020? Well-weather permitting we’ll be sampling the delights of the Lake District, UK in January, then heading for long-haul sun in February. After that, who knows? Will European travel even be feasible? We can only wait to find out…