RUNAWAY GRANNY’S JOURNAL
For the first time in my life I’m almost packed. I usually leave things to the last minute then throw anything clean into a bag. I’ve been collecting all my bits for weeks now, down to Elastoplast and tins of tuna – just in case I end up starving. I thought a couple of tins of Slimfast would ensure healthy meals, of a sort…also in case of starvation. Got the chocolate one half price in ‘Tesco; 24 lunches for 7 quid. What a menu!
Last night I was watching CSI and became aware again of how huge this step I’m taking is. What if I can’t get work right away or find somewhere to live? What if I make an arse of the housing problem and Musician ends up homeless? Must ring and see how Morag is.
Sewing kit…find one, and fix the zip on the black bag for B&Bs. Still got a big box of books in the car leftover from the boot sale last Sunday. At least I got my petrol money out of that. Still to find a breakdown contract…so I’ve got someone to call if I die on the road…the car that is, not me. Also got to call the banks and find out just how much cash I haven’t got…sort out cheque-casher stuff too. Work say I’ve got 16hrs holiday money, better than I thought.
I’m a granny who ran away, finally grabbing the freedom I always wanted. In the end, when I was approaching 49, I had to give myself a deadline… set a date. I’d been ranting for years about this freedom and what I was going to do with it, so I wrote on the kitchen wall ‘1st AUGUST’ and tried to clear out some of my clutter; every time I left the house I took a carrier bag of books and gave them away. These were the very books lugged from the old flat to this new one only a year before… and the bookcases had been weeded out then too.
Preparing to leave was exciting but in the back of my mind there was this feeling that it wouldn’t really happen, that something would drag me kicking and screaming from my plans. My family probably didn’t think I’d go either…but, the great day arrived and I packed up the car, hugged two of my children and a grandson (I’d already said goodbye to my other son and his sons the day before) and suddenly I was driving out of the street, away from sunny Govan and grey Glasgow, down the M8 to the M74, heading south to my future. All I knew was that I was heading for Devon; my daughter had worked there for a year and I’d visited a couple of times, been so impressed with the mild climate and the people that I’d decided that Devon was as good a place to start as any. Exeter seemed to be the point I was aiming for.
August 2nd 2003
9am. In my damp tent. I had to turn it around so the sun could dry the other sides. Don’t know if it’s condensation on the inside or wet through with drizzle and dew. Not too bad sleep; same as usual for me, lying there for about 2 hours before I can get unconscious. Had to get the blow-up bed out at midnight. I thought I could do without it ‘cause the grass was springy – but then, I am pretty heavy. Just packing up now, hoping no-one’s stolen the car. I’ve left it in a lay-by just up the road; somewhere in North Wales.
It took me hours and lots of miles and petrol last night to find somewhere to camp. I did a lot of unnecessary driving, all around Cheshire’s rich lanes, lovely big houses up at the end of long driveways, but I couldn’t find a way into any fields or somewhere that would be private enough. Problem was, I was looking for somewhere to take the car too. I think I was just scared of the walk with that backpack. I had this picture in my mind of me camping in a huge landscape with a couple of trees and a little river along the bottom of a slope. I camped in a field just behind the car, five miles from Ruthin and Mold.
It’s a beautiful morning, all bright and clear; very scary peeing in a field in case some farmer is sitting in a pasture somewhere watching me with his keen eyes.
I picked up my gear (far too much brought for one night) and struggled back to the car. There was a big truck parked up beside me, and like a nice country person I said, ‘Good morning,’ and so did he.
Lesson learned: only take what you need. I began sorting out the car and backpack, found my folding chair that Musician had bought me. I put it up and sat down and had a tin of Slimfast shake. The truck moved off and stopped beside me.
‘If you’d asked nicely I’d have made you a cup of tea,’ he said.
‘I’ve got breakfast in a can, but thanks anyway,’ I waved the Slimfast at him.
‘You’ve got more in that car than I’ve got in here.’
‘Couldn’t make up my mind, so I brought it all just in case.’
Oh it was nice to be out in the world, on my own. I’ll be heading back to Mold to get to Wrexham then the 534 back to the M6 and on to Birmingham. Alice sent me a map, looks dead easy. Ha! We’ll see what kind of mess I make of it.
I’ve even had my morning exercise; I got out of the field and up the little hill to the corner and could just see my car when a car behind me hooted and I realised that the carrier bags I’d tied to the back of the pack must be falling off. I arrived at the car, sweat dripping off me, to discover that I had lost my big diary. Dumped the stuff at the car and went back to the camp site, and there was the book. It must’ve fallen out when I chucked the pack on my back.