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Published: November 13th 2015
Traveling backwards 4
Something that has been a great pleasure during my return trip to the UK is meeting friends and family that I've not seen for such a long time. I've been amazed at how selflessly and readily they have given up prior engagements to make time for me. My daughter took time off work to spend with me, and other friends have fitted me into their schedule to accommodate my brief stay here.
There are friends that I only manage to keep in touch with at Christmas time, yet they are nonetheless dear to me. Two such friends are David and his wife Margaret. Last Christmas he failed to send me a Christmas card, which was unusual. I wrote to see if he was OK, but received no reply. When people fail to communicate it could be for any number of reasons: lost the address, too busy, lost in the post, lost interest! But when a friend who is getting on in years fails to respond, the tendency is to wonder if he is ill or even alive. I didn't want either of the last two categories to have been the cause. It was then,
with some trepidation that I called to David and Margaret's house in Yorkshire. Their door was answered by my old friend David, who with a huge smile immediately called to his wife to announce; "'ey op Margaret, it's Mike Reid. Nice t' see thee lad. Com'on in an' sit th' sen darn" One of those fine surprises in life that remain etched. He had been through a patch of poor health but was now recovering.
Neither David nor Margaret are tall, but they match each other so nicely. They are like peas in a pod. Made for each other. Their cottage too is small and fits their size so wonderfully. The house displays their interests, of art, the local theatre and green fingered pursuits. I love it there even though I feel like Gulliver. I was lucky to catch them in because the following week they had plans to visit the Whitby folk festival. They will drive there in their camper van and stay for the week. They go every year. A couple of hours in their company passed in an instant. It was so good to share our news and to be in their company again.
I've always been impressed by their devotion to each other and their shared interest in life around them. He is now eighty years old and Margaret is seventy five. They appear to understand each other thoroughly and to coexist seamlessly. I cannot imagine one without the other. They are an inspirational couple. Seeing them again was one of the high points of my visit to the UK. In a world so full of greed and conflict my two friends shine like stars in the night time. Guiding stars.
My house no longer has 'For Sale' on it, the sign now reads 'Sold Subject to Contract'. The couple who tried to buy it the first time it was on the market, offered the full -increased - asking price, within 24 hours of the sign going up. They then increased their offer to secure the sale. It's early days yet, but it looks as though the sale will go ahead this time. My plans to travel south and visit friends there have been abandoned, in order to give me sufficient time to clear the house of my remaining belongings. Of course there are many things that I'd like to
keep but I can't take much back to Thailand, so just about everything will have to be gotten rid of. As I sift and sort through my personal belongings, I feel like the executor after my own funeral. If you ever need an exercise in letting go (of attachments), then this is a fine way to go about it.
Even though the house has now potentially been sold and my priority is to remove my belongings, I'm unable to stay out of the garden. This is to some extent how it was when I first moved here. My father was a keen and knowledgeable gardener and his enthusiasm has rubbed off on me. So I busy myself in the daylight hours by attending to areas of the garden that have been neglected for some time and enjoy getting those familiar gardening tools back in my hands. Bizarrely perhaps, cuts, grazes, blisters and aching muscles only add to my enjoyment along with those familiar smells of soil and cut plant fiber. I left many tools in the tool shed for the tenants to use, but sadly several have been left out in the rain and are damaged and
some others have disappeared - ah well, all part of that letting go experience I guess. I bought some farm land in Thailand because I really needed to get involved with the the land again. It is not the same experience as gardening in England, but it throws up some interesting challenges. It may well be a good thing that I'll soon be leaving this house since I decided to spend last night in the garden, sleeping in my faithful 4 seasons sleeping bag. Such a buzz. No dawn chorus sadly to start my day: it's too late in the year but plenty of interesting sounds in the night. A three bed-roomed house and he chooses to sleep in the garden - the man's a lunatic!
Something that I've had for more than 40 years is a framed picture of a woman playing a violin. It's beautiful, but I didn't want to take it to Thailand. I'd prefer it to stay in this country. I'd secretly hoped that it's value might have increased but I have been offered very little for it, so that's the end of that dream. A very good friend of mine, Glenda, who
paints and has a passion for the arts was my first choice to take over the ownership this picture. She was delighted with it when I took it to her house in Yorkshire, and tells me that it now hangs on her wall and has been admired by her friends. So I'm happy with the outcome. She has also managed to shed some light on its origins since I gave it to her and it seems that it was painted by a well known American artist.
Glenda and I have been friends since we met at college as mature students many years ago. Both of us became teachers and we have remained firm friends ever since. Her house too is a place where I just love to be. There are interesting arty bits and pieces every where, and her lounge has these huge sofas that welcome you when you sit in them by swallowing you up. I was a joy to see her again and a great pleasure to share our news, our separate plans for the future and to reminisce about the past. I wish I could have stayed longer, but the clock was ticking and
work needed to be done at my house.
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